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Samurai armor is renowned for its exquisite craftsmanship and intricate designs, Owning and wearing one allows you to deeply connect with the culture and traditions of samurai warrior. Especially if you are studying traditional Japanese swordsmanship, when you do kata with your samurai sword, wearing the armor will help you better understand the “why” behind each movements, because some of them were created for actual battlefield, where you should be fully armed. Romanceofmen offers not only quality katana swords, to complete your samurai dream, we also have samurai armor for sale, they are handcrafted with care, wearable and functional, with exquisite detailing. We understand that each customer has unique preferences, so other than our pre-designed armor sets, we also have custom samurai armor that allows you to tailor your samurai armor to your specific desires.
The making of samurai armor is a time consuming and labor intensive process, most parts can only be done manually, and maybe only manual work can bring out the exquisite artistry of samurai armor. We meticulously handcraft each piece of armor with respect to the time-honored techniques and aesthetics of ancient Japan.
Our materials are carefully chosen for their quality, and try to be as historically correct as possible. The steel we used for the armor is 0.8mm cold rolled steel, it’s durable, strong and not too heavy to wear. We could further reinforce the steel by heat treat it if you want extra protection. All metal pieces are carefully lacquered to combat water and rust, and connected with quality silk, cords and leather, making the armor both functional and strikingly beautiful.
We don’t really go to battlefield on a daily basic, when it’s not being weared, samurai armor is a great decorative piece for your house , we should learn how to display your samurai armor correctly. it will become the conversation starter of your house. Samurai armor is a striking and eye-catching piece, It attracts attention and curiosity, allowing wearers to share the history and significance behind the armor, making it an excellent focal point for social gatherings or events.
Our Armors are wearable and functional, but don’t just take our word for it. Here is a review that showcases its exceptional quality and flexibility when wearing. We made real samurai armor, not a display piece or cosplay costume.
Samurai Armor types:
Throughout Japanese history, armor underwent many different evolutions. The earliest armor can be traced back to the Kofun period, where the materials used were primarily metal (likely copper) and leather. And the armor designs were likely influenced China.
Around the Kofun period, metal armor began to replace the leather and wood armor. But due to shortage of iron in that time, armor was primarily simple and rustic, mainly short armor (短甲 Tankou ) and hanging armor (挂甲 Keikou). The hanging armor is made by stringing and stacking armor scales with ropes. The bottom of each scale covers the top of the previous one, forming a style where the bottom is wider than the top. The two-tier hanging armor of the Nara period was the precursor to the later o-yoroi (大鎧 great armor). Short armor was made by linking pieces of leather or metal into a whole to protect the main parts of the torso.
From the middle of the Heian period to the Kamakura period,The unique Japanese armor styles like o-yoroi, Doumaru (胴丸), and Haramaki (腹巻) began to develop. It was the era where samurais wore helmets with shovel-shaped crests, wore furry boots, and fought on horseback with bows and arrows.
The o-yoroi was born in the middle of the Heian period and matured by the end of the Kamakura period and the beginning of the Muromachi period. In the later stages of the Muromachi shogunate, due to more and more civilian war, and the introduction of gunpowder weapons, the o-yoroi was gradually replaced by the doumaru, haramaki, and gusoku (具足) styles.
During the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods, the robust and lightweight Tosei gusoku (当世具足) became popular and was the mainstream armor. With the use of the arquebus, known as the "tanegashima," the design and performance of armor were greatly influenced, and the Nanban dou (南蛮胴), influenced by Western armor, also began to appear. Various styles of dou and kabuto coexisted in this era, marking these periods the golden age of armor.
Then, during the more than 300 years of peace from the Tokugawa shogunate to the end of the shogunate, armor gradually became a decorative piece. Because of the development of firearms, armor is not longer a good protective gear in modern war, samurai armor eventually exited the battlefield.
what is samurai armor made of:
The main components of samurai armor can be roughly divided into five categories:
1- 札 (Kozane) scales,
2- 縅毛(Odoshiito) cords
3- 金具廻 (Kanagu) Metal fixtures
4- 韋所 (Kawa) Leather parts
5- 金物 (Kanamono) Metal Parts
Among them, the scales, cords, and metal fixtures are the most important components that shape the general form of the armor.
1- 札 (Kozane) scales,
Many small Kozane connect together makes the samurai armor, that means the 'scales' (kozane) are the most critical components of the armor, forming its basic structure. Especially for o-yoroi in Edo Period, they are mainly made of leather kozane, the leather were soaked in glue, then repeatedly hammered to get additional hardness. But of course iron kozane are used in important parts of the body, like chest, and left part of the body (because when you use bow your left side is exposed). Usually armors structure is one layer of iron kozane, two layers of leather kozane. In ancient time this balances the overall cost, weight and protection.
Most common size for Kozane is about 5-7 cm long, and the most common type of Kozane is called Hon Kozane ( 本小札) , Hon kozane has 2 rows of small holes, first row with 6 holes and second with 7 holes. Kozanes are usually lacquered with red, black, gold, silver color. A set of samurai armor, especially O-yoroi, might need 2000+ Kozanes.
2- 縅毛(Odoshiito ) cords
The role of 'odoshiito' (lacing cord) is to connect the armor components. Various materials, including braided cords, leather cords, and folded fabric such as hemp and twill, are used as odoshi-ito. The origin of the word 'odosu' is believed to come from 'odotooshi', meaning threading the lacing cord through the holes in the scales.
While the odoshi-ito plays a crucial role in forming the armor, it also enhances the aesthetic value of the armor, especially in the sode part. The patterns created by using variously dyed odoshi-ito add an element of beauty and artistry to the armor, showing that it's not just a piece of protection, but also a work of art.
3- 金具廻 (Kanagu) Metal fixtures
'Kanagu' refers to the main metal fixtures on the samurai armor. It's designed to absorb impact at the top of the scales (kozane), protects the body, maintain the shape of the armor, and attach various cord (Odoshiito)
Key examples include 胸板 'muna-ita' (Kanagu in the front of the body armor), ‘脇板 waki-ita' (Kanagu in the side armor), 眉庇'mabisashi' (kanagu attached to the front bottom of the helmet) etc. These components not only enhance the functionality of the armor but also contribute to its intricate design, demonstrating the careful thought put into every aspect of the samurai's protection.
4- 韋所 (Kawadokoro) Leather parts
'Kawadokoro' refers to the leather parts of armor, basically refers to the beautiful patterns on parts of helmet, shoulder, chest etc.
Leathers were mainly used on Helmet to provide comfort wearing, on chest for decoration, on shoulder and armor to provide flexibility. And with leather cover, when you use bow it will prevent the bowstring from accidentally caught on the scales, on the other hand scales will be protected by the leather. These leather elements provide added flexibility and comfort, showcasing the intricate design and practical utility of samurai armor.
5- 金物 (Kanamono) Metal Parts
'Kanamono' refers to decorative metal fittings on armor, which are often gilded (gold-plated) or silver-plated.
In the world of samurai armor, there are several types of kanamono. Take helmet for example, there are 八幡座'hachimanza', a decorative fitting placed in the hole at the top of the helmet. Then there's 篠垂'shinodare', a sword-shaped ornament hanging from the hachimanza. The 鍬形'kuwagata' is a crest that stands on the front of the helmet, and it's placed on a base called 鍬形台'kuwagatadai'. The 'hassoubyou' are rivets that are hammered into decorative plates.
Kanamono is mainly for decoration, but it’s a major reason why samurai armor is so unique and eye catching gorgeous.
The major armor parts explained (Based on Tōsei Gusoku )
Tōsei Gusoku, which was popular during Japan's Muromachi and Azuchi-Momoyama periods, a tumultuous time also known as the Warring States period."Tōsei Gusoku" literally translates to "modern armor". However, this term first appeared during the Edo period. People back then referred to armor before the Edo period as "Mukashi Gusoku" (old armor) and the contemporary armor as "Tōsei Gusoku" (modern armor). A complete set of armor is divided into three parts: the helmet, the main armor and small armor (小具足,Kogusoku).
Kabuto means helmet in Japanese armor. Kabuto in Nara period is still heavily influenced by Chinese armor, but in Heian period, with the development of Oyoroi, we can see the Kabuto start to look unique and close to the samurai armor we know today. We can see Kabutos with large kuwagata and beautiful patterned Fukigaeshi(吹返).
But in Tōsei Gusoku, many things were changed, armor are more for on foot battle not on horse, and armor needs to be more affordable, many things in Oyoroi are changed. The Tōsei Gusoku Kabuto, when still share many things in common, is different from the Yoyori Kabuto. One significant difference is the The 'Fukigaeshi' (side flaps), become miniaturized and are basically only used as decorations. They are no longer created by rolling the neck guard, but are independent small decorative structures, often painted with the family crest of the owner. This is one of the biggest distinguishing features between the kabuto used in Tōsei Gusoku and those used in Ō-Yoroi.
Do - 胴
The chest armor is the main part of the armor that protects the chest, belly, and back. Initially, it was mainly made from wood or leather, but as the age of modern armor, or "Tōsei-gusoku" (from the late Muromachi period onward) required resistance to high-penetration weapons such as guns and spears, iron plates were used as materials, boasting robust defensive power.
The "dō" refers to the torso part of the Japanese armor, and there are many ways to categorize it. The simplest categorization is based on the number of pieces that make up the "dō", for example, two-piece "dō", five-piece "dō". There are also categorizations based on regional characteristics, such as the "Mogami dō", "Sendai dō", "Kōshū dō", and so on. And also based on the arrangement of the armor scales, like horizontal or vertical arrangement, and so on.
Kusazuri - 草摺
Kusazuri refers to the armor part that protects the lower belly and thighs, which is hung from the hem of the "dō" (chest armor) by a string called 揺絲"Yurugi-ito". To improve footwork, it is divided into several parts, each of which is counted as one section. In the large armor (ō-yoroi), it is divided into four sections (front, back, left, and right), while in the round armor (dō-maru) or belly band (haramaki), it is divided into 7-8 sections.
Parts other than Kabuto and Do, are referred as 小具足,Kogusoku, means “small armor”, here are some major small armors:
Menpo, face masks, they are special accessories in Japanese armor, very characteristic of the Japanese culture. They can hide the face of the samurai and even intimidate the opponent. Masks can be divided into three categories, according to how much of the face they cover: half-face(半首), cheek(面頬), and full-face (总面).
The half-face is a simple piece of armor that likely appeared during the Muromachi period. It gets its name because it covers half of the face and is secured with ropes. The half-face is rarely used by samurai, but usually by lower-ranking foot soldiers to provide some simple protection for their heads. (If you think about it, you might find that the helmets of the Saint Seiya characters are very similar to the half-face.)
Cheek masks, often made of iron, cover the face below the eyes. General cheek masks usually have a mustache, often made from bear hair or other animal hair. But some cheek masks also use very long beards, probably made from other animal hair, such as horse mane.
As a handmade product, there are many types of cheek masks. Including elder, Tengu (long-nosed goblin), flat Tengu, warrior, fierce, old man, laughing, monkey, house, and beauty cheek masks, and so on.
Generally speaking, cheek masks only cover the face below the eyes. But in Japanese armor, there is also a mask that covers the entire face, called the full-face mask. This kind of mask hides the entire face, not only to intimidate the enemy but also to conceal the face of the samurai.
In the stories of the Japanese Warring States period, the so-called shadow warriors didn't need a high degree of facial similarity. As long as they put on the armor used by the general and wore this kind of mask that covered the entire face, it would be very difficult for the enemy to distinguish them.
Sode (shoulder armor) is a component of the traditional Japanese Samurai armor. In addition to protection, these armor pieces played a significant part in the aesthetic presentation and symbolism of the samurai. The armors were both functional and a reflection of a Samurai's wealth and status.
Sode were designed to protect the shoulder and upper arms of the Samurai. Their size and design varied over time. Earlier versions were large and covered much of the shoulder and upper arm, but they will not restrict movement, particularly in archery. Over time, as tactics and weaponry evolved and the use of the bow became less prevalent in battles, sode became smaller and more compact, allowing for greater mobility.
The term "Kote" in Japanese armor refers to arm armor. As early as the Kofun era, pottery warrior dolls showed the presence of gear similar to Kote. However, in the early types of Oyoroi , usually only the left hand Kote was equipped with armor pieces. This is because warfare at the time was mainly archery-based, the right hand in armor is known as the "shooting hand", required for pulling the bow, and equipping armor pieces on the arm can be cumbersome. Therefore, many Kamakura-era Oyoroi have their right arm made of silk sleeves, similar to the puffed sleeves in medieval European clothing, and are not equipped with Kote. However, in the Muromachi and Edo periods, Oyoroi influenced by Tōsei Gusoku, usually equipped Kote on both hands. With the advent of the Muromachi era, as Tōsei Gusoku became the mainstream, Kote also evolved. In order to reduce weight and cost, materials such as chainmail began to be widely used.
Haidate refers to thigh armor, which originates from the practice in the Kofun era of wearing a cloth with armor pieces directly to the thigh. In the early Oyoroi, although protection of the torso was emphasized, there was a lack of protection for the thigh, so the earliest Oyoroi did not have Haidate.
Suneate, also known as shin guards, refers to armor for the lower leg, which appeared before the introduction of the Oyoroi. Early Suneate simply protected the lower leg area, but in the Nanboku-chō period, a semi-circular structure extended the protection of the Suneate to the knee area. Two ropes on the Suneate, the upper rope and the lower rope, are used for fixation, and the main body of the Suneate is fixed on a rectangular cloth, which wraps around the calf when fixed.