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Japanese "makibishi" iron spikes, a type of caltrop

The term makibishi (撒き菱 or 撒菱) refers to the Japanese version of the caltrop. The tool (igadama) is a sharp spiked object that was used in feudal Japan to slow down pursuers and also was used in the defense of samurai fortifications.[1][2]


Makibishi was one of the items supposedly used by the ninja. It had six or eight pointed spikes.[3] Iron makibishi were called tetsubishi while the makibishi made from the dried seed pod of the water chestnut formed a natural type of makibishi called tennenbishi. The term makabishi literally means "scattered water chestnut" in Japanese.[4] Both types of makibishi could penetrate the thin soles of the shoes such as the waraji sandals that were commonly worn in feudal Japan when the makibishi was dropped on the ground or planted in advance.[5][6]

Makibishi could be carried in a bag attached to a belt along with other commonly carried weapons and/or tools such as shuriken and kaginawa. [7] Makibishi could be thrown like a shuriken[8]and could also be used against an enemy on horseback.[9] Modifications made by the ninja included serrated tips, which were also said to be occasionally coated with poison.[10]


  1. Japanese Castles AD 250--1540, Stephen Turnbull, Peter Dennis, Osprey Publishing, 2008 P.32
  2. Samurai, warfare and the state in early medieval Japan, Karl F. Friday, Psychology Press, 2004 P.119
  3. Matthews, Rupert (2015). Ninjas. Gareth Stevens Publishing LLLP. ISBN 978-1-4824-3175-9.
  4. Pretzer, Xavid (2015). O-umajirushi: A 17th-Century Compendium of Samurai Heraldry. Cambridge, MA: The Academy of the Four Directions. pp. ccxxx. ISBN 978-0-692-37740-6.
  5. Pauley's Guide - A Dictionary of Japanese Martial Arts and Culture, Daniel C. Pauley Samantha Pauley, 2009 p176
  6. Comprehensive Asian fighting arts, Donn F. Draeger, Robert W. Smith, Kodansha International, 1980 p.127
  7. Warriors of Medieval Japan, Stephen Turnbull, Osprey Publishing, 2007 p.162
  8. Comprehensive Asian fighting arts, Donn F. Draeger, Robert W. Smith, Kodansha International, 1980 P.127
  9. Exotic weapons of the Ninja, Sid Campbell, Citadel Press, 1999 P.100
  10. Yoda, Hiroko; Alt, Matt (2013). Ninja Attack!: True Tales of Assassins, Samurai, and Outlaws. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 978-4-8053-1218-6.

External links

  • Media related to Lua error in Module:Commons_link at line 61: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value). at Wikimedia Commons