How Firearms Came to Japan

AS for us three Portuguese, since we did not have any business to attend to, we passed the time away hunting, fishing, and visiting the very rich and majestic temples to their gods, where we were most cordially received by the bonzes, or priests, for the Japanese are by nature a very friendly and sociable people. It was during this time when we had nothing to do, that one of the three men in our group, a fellow by the name of Diogo Zeimoto, who was very fond of shooting, would occasionally go off by himself with his musket .... One day he came upon a swamp inhabited by an enormous number of birds of all different varieties, and while he was there he shot down about twenty-six wild ducks. The Japanese had never seen firearms like that before and they promptly reported it to the nautaquim, who at the time happened to be watching the running of some horses that had just been shipped to him from the outside. Astounded by the news, he immediately sent for Zeimoto, who came straight from the swamp where he had been hunting. As he watched him coming towards him with the musket slung over his shoulder and his two Chinese helpers loaded down with game, he could hardly contain his excitement. From the way he carried on, it was apparent that he was simply delighted by it all, for they had never before seen target shooting with firearms in Japan, and since none of them knew the secret of the gunpowder and could not understand how it worked, they attributed it to some sort of witchraft....

As a result, the insatiable curiosity and demand for this musket increased from that moment on to such a remarkable degree that, when we left the island some five and a half months later, there were already more than six hundred of them around.

Excerpt from `The Travels of Mendes Pinto'

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