There is some confusion about which European nation introduced gunpowder and firearms in Japan. The Portuguese are generally credited with bringing firearms and gunpowder to Japan in the early 1600s. The Portuguese brought the first matchlock gun to Japan in 1542. These guns were used extensively by Japanese and Chinese forces during the Meiji Period. This introduction of gunpowder and firearms to Japan brought Christianity to the region.
The Europeans introduced gunpowder and firearms to Japan around 1543. The Portuguese introduced the technology after they shipwrecked off Tanegashima Island in the south of Kyushu. These weapons were used extensively in the late 16th century and during conflicts. Then Japan stopped development of firearms and abandoned its use during the sakoku period, but once contact with the West began in 1854, firearms were widely used again.
In addition to the matchlock gun, the Japanese first used firearms to suppress traditional samurai rebellions. In the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877, the newly created Imperial Japanese Army used firearms against the traditional samurai. In that rebellion, 320,000 rounds of ammunition were fired each day. In approximately 1543, the Portuguese introduced the tanegashima matchlock gun to Japan. Originally, this gun was based on the armory of Malacca, which they captured in 1511.
Historically, the introduction of firearms and gunpowder in Japan has been linked to military revolutions. While gunpowder weapons had been developed in Europe over many centuries, they were not introduced to Japan until the year 1543. Japan’s military revolution may be traced to the introduction of a stronger government. However, there are numerous other reasons why the introduction of gunpowder and firearms in Japan was so important.
During the Japanese period, various firearms were studied by Japanese daimyo and clans. Some of these guns were experimental and imitated, while others had no practical application. The triple-barrel hinawaju, for instance, was a revolver-type gun that had three pans. Daimyo also studied the level double-barreled pistol.
During this time, the Japanese government began banning foreign missionaries. This was due to their political ambitions, their intolerant behavior toward other religions, and their connection to selling Japanese people abroad. The Tokugawa Shogunate banned Christianity in Japan in 1587. During the Meiji Period, Christianity became illegal in Japan. In 1630, Christianity was banned in western Japan and many Christians were killed.