The White Arrow (Shirahana no Ya)
The White Arrow “Shirahana no Ya” is an arrow with a white feather fletching.
According to traditional Japanese samurai customs or lore, in the early Heian period, carrying the Shirahana no Ya or White Arrow was associated with being a sacrifice. Despite the great honor, the warrior chosen to shoot the first sacred (white) arrow of a battle was probably the first to be killed in the return fire.
White fletched arrows were highly visible on the battlefield, and were also seen as signs of purity, hence being found in shrines. Red-shafted arrows with white tails are seen as positive signs of fertility, or of assuring abundance. White feathered arrows are still considered a symbol of good luck and auspiciousness.
In later years, from the Sengoku (Warring States) period, the honor of being called the Shirahana no Ya came to mean being singled out for something, or to be selected as a representative or special candidate.