Friday, July 31, 2009

Luna Hyuzu's Fan Collection

Well anyone that knows me on deivantART is probably fammiliar with my Naruto OC, Luna Hyuuzu, and anyone that is fammiliar with her is probably aware of the fact that she collects and has her bedroom decorated with various Japanese War Fans, so I thought I would share my vast knowledge of Japanese War Fans! :D

Not including standard folding fans, there are four different types of Japanese War Fans: Uchiwa, Gunsen, Saihai, and Tessen.

First, let's look at the standard Japanese folding fan


The folding fan was invented in Japan in the 8th century and taken to China in the 9th century. The Akomeogi (or Japanese folding fan; 衵扇; Hiōgi) originated in the 6th century. These were fans held by aristocrats of the Heian period when formally dressed. They were made by tying thin stripes of hinoki (or Japanese cypress) together with thread. The number of strips of wood differed according to the person's rank.


The uchiwa (round fan) is a traditional Japanese handicraft with a long tradition. Originally from China, it is made by cutting a bamboo tube into narrow splinters which are then splayed out in the radial shape of a fan. Over both sides of this bamboo frame is pasted "washi" paper. Sometimes they were also made of iron, built on wooden cores. They were used to ward off arrows, as a sunshade, and to signal to troops. They are also used in Japanese court and to fan flames.


Gunsen were folding fans used by the average samurai warriors to cool themselves off. They were made of bronze, brass or a similar metal for the inner spokes, and often used iron for the outer spokes, making them lightweight but strong. Warriors would hang their fans from a variety of places, most typically from the belt or the breastplate, though the latter often impeded the use of a sword or a bow.


Saihai (also called Zai) is a very important article for directing troops. Every monogashira (captain) and all officers of higher rank carry it. To carry it, fasten the cord (also called udenuki-no-o) to the ring of the right chigakushi (small piece on the upper part of the breastplate), and put you left hand into the cord. When not in use put it at the back of the waist.


Tessen were folding fans with outer spokes made of iron which were designed to look like normal, harmless folding fans or solid clubs shaped to look like a closed fan. Samurai and Ninja could take these to places where swords or other overt weapons were not allowed, and some swordsmanship schools included training in the use of the tessen as a weapon. The tessen was also used for fending off arrows and darts, as a throwing weapon, and as an aid in swimming. The outer edge of the fan could also be sharpened so they could also be used to cut an opponent. The fighting style of using a fan is called TESSENJUTSU.

and there's also special made fans for dancers


Of course, dancing with fans is popular in Japanese culture. Dancing fans are made specially light-weight so that the dancer can move them easily.

Fans are also used as a marriage proposal in Japan


The engagement of a traditional Japanese wedding is sealed by a ceremony called the yunio. The highlight of this ceremony is the giving of symbolic gifts wrapped in ornate rice paper. The gifts include: dried cuttlefish for its phallic shape; kelp or konbu because the character can be written to mean "child-bearing woman"; a long, linen thread to symbolize the gray hair of old age; and a folded fan which spreads out to show future wealth and growth in numbers.

I know I'm not an expert on Japanese things...but they sure are fun to research :D
if I messed up anything, please feel free to correct me ^_^;

Ninja Weapons

Since NARUTO is a really popular anime/manga to write fan-characters for, I thought I would make an informational blog post about various ninja weapons used in the real world, because NARUTO is about ninjas and has some decent references to real ninja weapons. This could also be helpful for anyone else that wants to write something about ninjas or Japanese characters.


Fans made of iron - called tessen - were commonly used by both ninja and samurai. There were two kinds of tessen - those that were actual folding fans and those modeled to look like folded fans that could be used to club an opponent. Either way, they could be carried around with no suspicion of being a weapon. When folded, regular tessen could be used the same as the ones used to club opponents. Folding tessen could also have sharpened edges used to cut opponents like a knife or other blade of some sort.


Ashiko were spikes worn on the bottom of the ninja's tabi (socks) or feet. It helped a ninja climb while also could be used in combat - I would assume getting kicked by a ninja while he was wearing ashiko foot spikes would hurt..pretty bad.


The Bo Staff was a hollow, wooden staff commonly made of bamboo or hard wood, and it was an important weapon to a ninja's arsenal. It's usually six feet long. The reason for it being hollow is because of tactics - by flicking the staff with great speed a ninja could launch a small knife or a poison dart at an opponent, catching him off guard.


A bokken was a wooden sword - used most commonly for sword training - but a lot of ninja preferred to use a bokken over a ninja-to, the reason being that it was lighter and easier to carry with no risk of cutting oneself. When used correctly in combat, a bokken could actually break bones and damage internal organs.


The Naginata was a pole weapon, consisting of a wooden shaft with a blade on the end - most commonly light oak wood and a bamboo blade. In Asia, it is most commonly associated with women, but in Europe it is more commonly associated with men.


The Kusarigama is a weapon - formally a farm tool - that consists of the kama (the Japanese version of a sickle, or a small scythe) on a chain with a weight at the opposing end. It was used by swinging the kama end above one's head while holding the weight in your hand. It was then thrown at the opponent's sword or pole to steal it from them, or their limbs to immobilize them.


Probably the most common and stereotypical ninja weapon, the nunchaku (or nun-chucks) is a weapon consisting of two commonly wooden, sometimes metal sticks connected by a short chain or rope. Originally a farming tool, the nunchaku is an effective close-range weapon. It is often used to strike from unexpected angles.


The ono, or battle axe, is a fairly rare ninja weapon and is rarely used. It's usually four feet long with an over-sized blade. I've never seen or heard of it used in combat so I don't know much about it - because it's so rare.


The shuriken is another common, stereotypical ninja weapon. The shuriken is a concealed weapon, most used for throwing. Shuriken were also used to stick into wood or the ground for intimidation, and when thrown, sometimes they were dipped with poison.


The ninjato - also called the ninjaken or shinobigatana - was the 'official' ninja sword. It was about half the size of a samurai's katana. They were used mostly as a stabbing weapon and were small enough to slip through a samurai's armor and, of course, stab him.


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A doka is a small container for safely carrying a live coal. The device is useful for lighting fuses with minimum fuss. On a cold night, it can be used to warm fingers before a delicate task. It is said to be an aid to ninjutsu.


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Because ninja worked by night, they needed light of course! A gando was a lantern used by ninja, lit by a candle.


Yet ANOTHER stereotypical ninja weapon, the kunai. The kunai was originally a Japanese gardening tool. It is commonly called the ninja throwing knife, as it was used as a knife or for throwing.


The sai are commonly fought with in pairs; they are daggers with a short, slender, pointed blade rather than a long, thick, and flat one. The sai are commonly rounded at the hilt, but there are also manji sai that have one handle point pointing up and the other pointing down.


Smoke bombs were used by ninja as either a diversion to distract opponents or to escape undercover.


The Ozatsu was the ninja cannon. Like the ono, it's rare and I've never seen it used to mentioned much. I don't even have a picture of one. I suppose they would be used and would work like any other feudal-era cannon.


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The shobo was a weapon used for striking pressure points. It was a piece of wood that was gripped by the wielder and was hung by a ring worn on the middle finger. Some versions were rings with a wooden peg attached on top.


The suntetsu was similar to the shobo. A Suntetsu is a metal rod/spike about 6 inches in length with a ring attached to it. The middle finger is inserted into the ring and the Suntetsu rests in the hand by various grips. It is also considered a concealed weapon.

Well, that's all the ninja weapons I can think of for now. If I ever remember another one, I'll add it to this list ^__^ if you have another weapon to tell me about, please don't be afraid to mention it! I'll be happy to add another weapon to the list!