Ya (arrow)

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Two matoya, target practice arrows.

Ya ( arrow?) is the Japanese word for arrow, and commonly refers to the arrows used in Kyudo (弓道 Japanese archery?).[1] Ya also refers to the arrows used by samurai during the feudal era of Japan. Unlike Western arrows, the ya is close to a metre long or longer. Traditional ya are made from natural materials, while modern ones may use aluminium.

Parts of the Ya[edit]

No (shaft)[edit]

The no are made from yadake bamboo and can have different shapes – straight, or tapering – depending on the use of the arrow in long-distance shooting or target practice. Lighter arrows can lose their stability when shot from a strong bow, heavier arrows have a trajectory that arcs more. Aesthetic balance of length and thickness determines the diameter of the ya. The proper length is measured from the archer's throat to five centimetres beyond the tip of the outstretched left hand.[1]

Hane (feathers)[edit]

The hane are about fifteen centimetres in length and can be the most expensive part of the arrow. Traditionally, the outermost tail feathers of large birds of prey were considered the finest. Many of these birds are now endangered – in particular the Sea Eagle – therefore, feathers of lesser eagles, swans, geese or even turkeys are being used in modern times.[1]

Hazu (nock)[edit]

The hazu is often made from goat or deer horn and archers file the slot to match the diameter of their own bowstring. Older or ceremonial ya can have bamboo nocks. [1]

Ne (target arrowhead)[edit]

Ya used for target practice have a conical iron tip (ne).[1]

Yajiri or yanone (war arrowhead)[edit]

Ya used in war by the samurai had a variety of tips yajiri or yanone, these arrowheads were forged using the same steel (tamahagane) and methods as traditional Japanese swords,[2] and could be signed on the tang by the maker in the manner as Japanese swords.[3]


See also[edit]

Kabura-ya (Japanese signal arrow 鏑矢)


  1. ^ a b c d e Kyudo: The Essence and Practice of Japanese Archery Onuma, Hideharu, Dan and Jackie DeProspero (1993) Kodansha International. ISBN 978-4-7700-1734-5.
  2. ^ Modern Japanese Swords and Swordsmiths: From 1868 to the Present, Authors Leon Kapp, Hiroko Kapp, Yoshindo Yoshihara, Publisher Kodansha International, 2002, ISBN 4770019629, 9784770019622 P.44
  3. ^ Transactions and proceedings of the Japan Society, London, Volume 4, Author Japan Society of London, Publisher Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co, 1900, Original from Princeton University P.126

External links[edit]