However, it is still not clear whether the firearms that came to Japan were made in Europe or in East Asia (Malacca), and the debate still continues as to whether those who brought them were Portuguese, Chinese, or even the Japanese pirates themselves. It has also been argued that the year of their introduction was not 1542, not 1543. The firearms introduced to Japan were called hinawaj_(matchlocks) after the firing device or Tanegashimaj_ (Tanegashima guns) after their place of origin. In addition to Negoro Temple and Sakai mentioned above, Kunitomo in _i Province (present-day Shiga Prefecture) developed into an important gun-producing area. The materials used to make the gunpowder indispensable for firearms were saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal, and the pirate chief _hoku, alias Goh_ made enormous profits bringing saltpeter from China and Siam (now Thailand) to Japan. The first record of the use of firearms is an account of a gun battle in 1549, six years after the introduction of firearms, between the Shimazu army from Satsuma and the Kimotsuki army from_umi.
Not surprisingly, production and use of firearms rapidly expanded in the turbulent Sengoku period. In the battle between Oda Nobunaga and the army of the temple fortress Ishiyama Honganji, as many as 8,000 guns were used. And in the famous Battle of Nagashino in 1575, three units of 1,000 musketeers each in the Oda_Tokugawa army routed Takeda_s mounted knights when they fired simultaneously on them. This historic episode has became known throughout the world through its depiction in Kurosawa Akira_s film Kagemusha. In Japan_s invasions of Korea in 1592 and 1597 led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Japanese army advanced so rapidly and conquered the Korean peninsula so overwhelmingly that it was likened to the invasion of a _no man_s land. The Korean army was powerless in the face of the musket.
In the Sengoku period, Japan became known abroad as a mighty military power, but in the Edo period (1603_1868) the development of this technology came to a halt. When Commodore Perry_s _black ships_ appeared off the coast of Japan in the mid-nineteenth century, each domain hastened to improve its firearms, but time was not on their side. After the opening of Japanese ports to foreign trade in 1854, the Japanese rushed to purchase arms and ammunition from the foreigners and devoted their energies to the import of firearms. Japan thus underwent radical transitions from expansion to reduction of armaments, and once again to military expansion. What lay behind Japan_s disarmament in the early Edo period?
The Abandonment of the Gun and Reversion to the Sword in Tokugawa Japan
Japanese history textbooks all mention the introduction of firearms and the Battle of Nagashino in which musketeers displayed their decisive power. More detailed reference works also describe how Japanese castles developed in response to the rapid diffusion of guns. Mountain castles were replaced by castles built on plains or low plateaus, moats were enlarged, stone foundations were built higher, surrounding walls were made thicker, and the indentations in the forts were increased. In addition to the practical aspect of facilitating the use of firearms, the donjon (main tower), containing a lookout post, command post, repositories for weapons, food and other provisions, and the living quarters of the lord of the castle, became the nucleus of each region and the symbol of its unity. The development of firearms also resulted in the expansion of the scale of warfare and an increased emphasis on infantry tactics, which in turn led to the separation of the peasant and warrior classes as samurai recruited as soldiers took up separate residence from peasants in castle towns. This clearly shows the extent to which Japanese society was reorganized according to the _gun standard._
In the second half of the sixteenth century, Japan succeeded in mass-producing firearms and developing into a military power that was recognized by the Europeans who frequented neighboring regions as at least their equal. For some reason, however, Japan then proceeded to abandon the firearms that had such a great influence and reverted to the sword. Have any Japanese historians have focused on the renunciation of firearms rather than their introduction?