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Over a span of three and a half centuries (1200–1550) Japan experienced profound transformations in the institutions, ideals, and methods of war. Originally a limited, clearly defined and extraordinary event, warfare became an endemic and encompassing element of life in the mid sixteenth century. Earlier, small bands of mounted warriors, skilled in archery, arrived in camp and departed as they saw fit, for no institutional mechanisms existed for them to supply themselves or their followers with food and materials of war. By the sixteenth century, however, powerful magnates (daimyō) were capable of supplying and maintaining large armies, numbering in the thousands, largely composed of pike-wielding foot soldiers.