Friday, October 19, 2012

WWA's Only Japanese member

This is Duke Hiroi. He's holding the one and only commemorative belt buckle for the 2012 WWA Convention in Albuquerque held in June. Duke out-bid a hull bunch a other WWA members to buy the buckle at the charity auction. Now, now only is Duke the only Japanese regular member of WWA, but he's also he owner of the only 2012 WWA Convention belt buckle.

Duke writes books and articles in Japanese. He's a former Japan Ground Self Defense Force special services officer and a small arms expert. He enters and often wins fast draw competitions in Japan, and many of his articles are about Western era arms. One well-known article was on a Japan-made replica of a Colt Navy percussion cap pistol. These replicas were made in the 1850s and used in the assassination of one of the feudal government's most liberal leaders, Naosuke Ii. 

This is what's interesting about Japan. Guns are no recent addition to Japanese arms. A Portuguese ship wrecked off a Japanese island called Tanegashima. The sailors had matchlock guns. Within months, replicas of these matchlocks made their way to the main islands of Japan and were called Tanegashima guns. The great battles of late 16th century Japan were won and lost by the positioning and use of Tanegashima guns. Not an invention of Japan, but one brought in from Portugal. 

Townsend Harris presented the Tokugawa government with Navy Colts. A few years later, replicas of these guns were used to assassinate a major official of that government. Sam Colt's gun. Japan's replica.

Anyway. Duke will no doubt show up at the 2013 convention in Las Vegas.  

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