how much does a samurai armor cost.
Samurais have always held a certain allure, a mystique that continues to captivate us even today. Their unwavering code of honor, their martial prowess, and their indomitable spirit have been the stuff of legends. But other than their famous weapon the katana sword, nothing else defines a Samurai more than their iconic armor. With its intricate design and imposing presence, a Samurai in full armor is a sight to behold. But have you ever wondered how much these impressive armors cost? Could every Samurai afford one? Let’s delve into the fascinating world of Samurai armors and their costs.
In ancient Japan, the cost of a full set of Samurai armor varied greatly depending on its quality and the status of the wearer. For instance, a simple suit of armor for an average warrior, likely a Samurai, converted to today’s currency, would cost roughly $7,000 USD. This would be a basis armor with essential armor parts, without any fancy decorations or enhancements components.
On the other hand, the high-end, custom samurai armors, which were decorated with gilded plates of real gold, full body coverage, and intricate decorations, could cost equate to $80,000 or more.
These costs were quite significant in an agrarian society like ancient Japan, where most people lived in what we would consider today as abject poverty. Therefore, these armors were often out of reach for most of the population, and only the wealthy Samurai could afford them. So how much does a samurai earn?
In ancient Japan, when talk about income, people often use the unit “Koku”. A koku is a traditional Japanese measurement used to determine the quantity of rice. It’s the amount of rice that can feed a person for an entire year. In volume, a koku equals about 180 liters. It was also a form of payment for samurais, which they would distribute among their family and servants. In today’s money, a koku of rice is roughly $500, but this can change based on different factors.
The earnings of a Samurai differed based on their status. Upper Samurai typically earned around 100, 200, or 250 koku, which after deductions, amounted to between 22 to 60 koku. Lower Samurai, on the other hand, got stipends of fifteen koku and rations for three, thirteen koku and rations for two, or ten koku and rations for one. Some even got a cash stipend that was less than this. Samurai of middle rank and above had a net income of no more than seven to ten koku. However, less than 12 percent of retainers made 100 koku or more; in fact, a significant majority, about 70 percent of the retainer corps, made 40 koku or less.
Indeed, a good number of Samurai were able to purchase their own armor. However, their choice of armor was often influenced by their financial situation. Some Samurai chose the tatami-gusoku, a less expensive type of samurai armor, over the more traditional forms. This was due to the fact that it was one of the few types of armor they could practically use, a concern that the more affluent upper ranks samurai class didn’t have to consider.
Buy samurai armor in moderns days is not cheap too, but in compare, it's still an achievable pursuit. This guide has more details about where to buy a samurai armor.