• Yari

    The popular spear used by Japanese samurai for hundreds of years

    If you’re interested in Japanese antiques, the yari is a classic item essential to the history of Japanese weaponry.

    A yari () is a form of Japanese spear. Used by samurai, it became a popular weapon in the Nara period (710-794) and didn’t lose popularity until the end of the Edo period (1603-1867).

     

    An effective and powerful weapon for samurai

     

    Equally as significant as the better-known katana, yari were easier to make and needed less training than almost any other type of weapon. This meant that they were very popular, and they left a powerful legacy in samurai culture.

     

    The martial art of using a yari is sōjutsu (which translates to “art of the spear”). Popular with samurai, Japanese fighters could use them on foot or on horseback. The spears are versatile enough that they could either slash like a sword or thrust like a spear in battle.

     

    A wide range in design and style

     

    Yari were made in dozens of different variations, and these spears had countless unique blade shapes. Some were better for penetrating armor, while others were better at hooking other riders on horseback.

    These straight-headed spears were usually made of the same sturdy steel as most other Japanese swords and arrowheads. The shaft was generally made of reliable hardwood and covered with bamboo and metal rings.

     

    Unique decorations tell a story

    Sometimes, yari decorations took the form of carvings of designs or sayings. One moving example is the yari we have in our own collection that is decorated with carvings of flowers and butterflies. On the other side is beautiful carved script. It reminds the owner that with training, the owner and their weapon will become one.

     

    With such rich history and a central role in samurai times, yari antiques showcase a central aspect of Japanese life and samurai values.