Horokuhiya (焙烙火矢)

Horokuhiya was a weapon invented and used in Japan during the Sengoku period (period of warring states) (Japan). Horokuhiya is generally recognized today as the weapon called Horokudama (described below).


A Horokudama was a weapon designed to wound and kill enemies by lighting its fuse, putting it into a large gun, such as the 112-gram matchlock, and firing it off. Incidentally, wood surrounding the weapon often caught on fire. It was similar to a modern incendiary bomb, but its main purpose was to have explosive power to wound and kill enemies with broken fragments of its container, so the fire itself was not likely a very powerful attack.

The Saikashu (a group of soldiers from Saika in Wakayama) are famous for using it on board a ship.

Horokudama is a weapon created by putting gun powder in a piece of kitchenware called a Horoku or similar earthenware, lighting its fuse and throwing it at enemies.

It is similar to a grenade, thrown directly by hand or sometimes with a rope using centrifugal force.

In addition to the Saikashu, Setouchi navies, such as Murakami navy, Nomi navy (Ura navy) and Kodama navy also made use of Horokudama.

In order to compete against these weapons, Nobunaga ODA ordered Yoshitaka KUKI to develop Tekkosen (armored steel ships).

Horokuhiya also indicate other similar weapons, such as primitive rockets that used black gunpowder for propulsion and were sometimes loaded with burning materials and gun powder to burn down targets or explode on impact. These weapons were likely created by clues from rocket-shaped weapons from China (Kasen), such as Shinkahia (a missile disguised as a bird).

At the time, East Asia had not yet created superior metal casting technology similar to Western countries, which meant that large cannons were unable to be produced and relatively numerous rocket-shaped weapons were introduced in siege warfare and naval battles. Attacks using explosive force and burning power were more effective than cannons that used colliding force since most of the buildings and warships during this time were made of wood. Therefore, there was significant military potential in such weapons as it could burn down defense facilities and ships in siege warfare and naval battles.

Battles in which Horakuhiya and Horakudama were used

The Battle of Itsuku-shima Island
The First Battle of Kizugawaguchi
The Second Battle of Kizugawaguchi
The Rebellion of Heihachiro OSHIO

[Original Japanese]