In the book Nariko’s Map, our heroine uses her yatate to fight against opposing samurai. But a yatate is not a weapon. What exactly is a yatate?
Yatate are travel writing sets. Constructed either as a box or a metal pipe-shaped object, they contain a shaft for storing a calligraphy brush, and a compartment for ink. The ink was typically a soaked piece of cotton or a small pot with a lid.
In researching Nariko’s Map, I traveled to Japan to learn more about ninja and medieval history. I photographed historical yatate among the other artifacts at the ninja museum.
Literacy was rare in the time period of the book, especially among women. With intelligence, literacy, and a dose of bravery, Nariko becomes a valuable agent for the kunoichi. Her yatate is a perfect weapon to wield in a war of information and secrets.