The characteristic feature of Japanese warfare, prior to the introduction of firearms in 1543, was the use of swords and spears in hand-to-hand fighting. Armies were made up of small, independent bands of soldiers who fought more as individuals than as units of a tactical formation, and naval units consisted of fishing vessels that were commandeered for transporting armies within bow-range or sword-reach of the enemy. Thus, all battles, whether on land or at sea, were little more than “monster fencing matches.” But the introduction of the Portuguese arquebus and the subsequent widespread manufacture of firearms soon led to radical developments in military techniques.
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