How effective was samurai armor


Thought out world history, the Samurai of Japan stand out as some of the most respected and intriguing warriors. They were famous not only for their steadfast honor code but also for their unique armor. Samurai armor is famous for its vibrant and beautiful colors. The armor was often lacquered in bright colors and fitted with extravagant crests.

Samurai armor's aesthetic value often cause people to questions about it's effectiveness, but the truth is, Samurai armor is highly effective in providing protection, a good example is, samurai armor was capable of stopping and deflecting a ball fired from a tanegashima matchlock at a distance of just 15 meters. 

How effective was samurai armor

This article will delve into how different Samurai armor types held up against various weapons, including the razor-sharp Katana, the swift arrow, and the powerful gunfire. 

We often see people calling samurai armor by different names, they are actually different types of samurai armor:

Oyoroi: This is an old type of armor, used mainly when Samurai were fighting on horseback. It was big and heavy, but it gave good protection. However, it wasn’t easy to move around in, especially for fighting on foot.

Doumaru: This armor was popular among the Samurai of old clans. It was lighter than the Oyoroi, making it easier to move around in. This made it a good choice for foot soldiers, who needed to be able to move quickly.

Tosei Gusoku: This is a “modern” type of armor that came into use around the 1500s. It was made from iron plates, which gave great protection. This armor became popular because of the introduction of firearms and new fighting tactics. One good example type of Tosei Gusoku is the Okegawa Dou, which has a tub-like shape for extra protection.

Oyoroi VS Arrows:

The Oyoroi armor was made especially for warriors who fought on horseback using bows and arrows. It was perfect for high-ranking samurais. The armor had a special design that covered the back, left, and front parts of the body, giving good protection against arrows.

In Oyoroi, There are many armor parts designed to protect from arrows, for example fukikaeshi (吹返) in the kabuto, it was attached to the sides of the helmet and bent to cover the face, preventing arrows from hitting directly.

The sode (shoulder armor) of Oyoroi is larger than other armors, they act as a mobile shield to protect the wearer from arrows.

Also the armor had a shape like the letter “C”. This design covered the body well, leaving fewer places where an arrow could hit directly. There was also an extra piece called the waidate that protected the right side. The armor was made of strong material that could absorb the hit of an arrow, making it even better at protecting the warrior.

Tosei Gusoku VS Bullets

The Tosei Gusoku, also known as the “modern armors,” were crafted from iron plates and rose to prominence in the 1500s. This was due to the introduction of firearms (hinawajū) and the increased need for better protection. These armors were deemed more than adequate in providing defense against firearms. In fact, it was quite rare for samurai wearing full Tosei gusoku to be killed by firearms, indicating the effectiveness of the Tosei Gusoku against bullets. There’s even a story about the famous daimyō and later Shōgun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. After a battle, he took off his cuirass to find several bullets inside. The bullets had made their way into the armor, but their impact was so greatly reduced that Ieyasu was unscathed and hadn’t even realized he’d been shot.

In conclusion, the effectiveness of Samurai armor is undeniable. It provided the necessary protection that these warriors needed in the battlefield. What’s truly remarkable is how the armor evolved over time, adapting to the changing weapons of each period. From the heavy Oyoroi designed for mounted archery, to the lighter Doumaru for foot soldiers, and finally to the Tosei Gusoku, which was crafted to withstand bullets, the evolution of Samurai armor is a testament to the ingenuity and adaptability of these warriors. It’s a fascinating journey that reflects not just the changing face of warfare, but also the enduring spirit of the Samurai.

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