How to wear samurai armor - Correct Order explained
Samurai armor, an iconic symbol of Japan’s rich history, is a marvel of ancient engineering and craftsmanship. Its intricate design, combined with its formidable functionality, has captivated the imaginations of people worldwide. The armor is not just a protective gear, but a work of art, reflecting the Samurai’s status, personality, and even the era in which they lived. But have you ever wondered how these warriors managed to put on such complex and heavy armor? How did they prepare themselves for battle, encased in layers of lacquered leather and iron? In this article, we will unravel the mystery behind wearing Samurai armor, a process that was as ceremonial as it was practical. So, let’s delve into the fascinating world of the Samurai and learn how to wear their iconic armor
First of all, wearing Samurai armor was not typically a one-man job. The armor was complex and had many parts, so it was often necessary for a squire or an assistant to help the Samurai put on the armor correctly. This ensured that all armor parts were secured properly for maximum protection and mobility.
The process of putting on Samurai armor was quite specific and followed a certain order. Here’s how it was done:
Fundoshi (tie): This was the first piece of clothing to be put on. It was a type of traditional Japanese undergarment, often worn for festivals and martial arts.
Shitagi and Obi (shirt and belt): The Shitagi was a type of undergarment, similar to a shirt. The Obi was a belt used to secure the Shitagi and later, the armor.
Kobakama (trousers): These were the trousers worn by the Samurai. They were loose and comfortable, allowing for a wide range of movement.
Tabi (slippers): These were traditional Japanese socks, usually made of cotton and worn with sandals.
Kyahan (leggings): These were protective coverings for the lower leg, often made of cloth or leather.
Waraji (sandals): Traditional straw sandals worn for better grip and comfort.
Suneate (greaves): These were shin guards, designed to protect the lower legs.
Haidate (cuisses): These were thigh guards, designed to protect the upper legs.
Yugake (gloves): These gloves were worn to protect the hands and provide a better grip on the Samurai’s weapon.
Kote (armoured sleeves): These were armored sleeves that protected the arms.
Waidate and Wakibiki (arm defense): These were additional pieces of armor worn on the arms for extra protection.
Do (cuirass): This was the main piece of armor, protecting the torso and abdomen.
Uwa-obi (belt): This was a second belt, worn over the Do for extra support.
Sode (shoulder guards): These were large rectangular pieces of armor that protected the shoulders.
Daisho (pair of swords): The Samurai’s primary weapons, usually a Katana and a Wakizashi.
Nodowa (gorget): This was a piece of armor that protected the throat.
Menpo and Kabuto (mask and helmet): The Menpo was a face mask, and the Kabuto was a helmet. These were the final pieces of armor to be put on, protecting the head and face.
The general principle was to arm oneself from the bottom up, and from the left to right. This order could vary in different clans, and many of the details were considered to be secret. It was also recommended that some parts of the armor should be easily removable in case the circumstances of the battle required it. For example, when climbing walls the Samurai removed the face mask menpo and the swords were worn vertically on the back. Most of the elements were removed before combat in marshes or other wet ground, naval battles or any especially difficult battle.
As we wrap up our journey into the world of Samurai armor, it’s clear that wearing this detailed gear was not just about safety. It was also a ritual showing the Samurai’s discipline, readiness, and respect for their customs. The armor, besides being a shield, was also a sign of the Samurai’s rank and fighting skills.
But, it’s important to remember that as time went on, the armor’s practical use lessened, and it became more of a ceremonial and symbolic outfit. By the late Edo period, regular armor was rarely worn except for ceremonies, and was often replaced by items like the kusari-katabira when a Samurai needed protection.
Even so, the beauty and skill of Samurai armor still amaze us, standing as a tribute to Japan’s rich cultural past and the legendary warriors who wore them. Whether seen in a museum or read about in a book, Samurai armor continues to impress and inspire, a timeless symbol of a past age.
So, the next time you see a Samurai armor, remember the careful process these warriors went through to wear their battle gear, and the deep cultural meaning each piece had. It’s not just armor, but an interesting story of Japan’s Samurai, their fighting skills, their rank, and their strong commitment to their lifestyle.