samurai weapons
Samurai Weapons, Samurai Armor and the Samurai way of life

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Samurai Armors

Samurai armors are probably the most overlooked part of the samurai legend. When someone talks about the samurai, they find the samurai swords more exciting and awe-inspiring than anything else. And whoever imagines the Samurai dressed in anything, but traditional clothing made of black or colourful cloth.

Yet, samurai armors are quite easily as interesting and exotic as the samurai swords and just as neccessary. For they are not just exotic, but a very important part of the Samurai's repertoire in the battlefield.

Much like the swords, the samurai armors, too, started out simple and almost crude in form. But gradually the armor, worn by the warriors, evolved over time with changing needs and with the coming of newer methods of technologies. Heavy armors got lighter and the crude designs received artistic facelifts that protected better.

The first real venture of the Japanese in making armor for the samurai resulted in heavy "clothing" made of solid metal plates. While the armor did offer protection from arrows, the drawbacks were plenty. Owing to their heaviness and inflexibility, the warrior's maneuvering ability was drastically reduced, something that was very essential in the battlefield. History notes that it was around the time of 1181-1185, during the Gempei War, that the first Japanese lamellar armor was made in Japan. Known as the yoroi, it weighed around 60lb and was to be worn by the mounted samurai. It consisted of heavy helmets and huge shoulder guards.

A typical yoroi would consist of the following parts:

  • Do - This was the name given to the part of the armor that protected the whole upper-body.
  • Sode - These were the suspended metal plates that protected the upper-arm and the shoulder. There were rings attached to the sode, through which passed silk cords which were tied together at the back of the armor in a decorative plait known as an agemaki. The cords were also protected using leather or metal guards so that they wouldn't snap during battle.
  • Kabuto - This was the helmet, formed by a number of plates all held together by cone-shaped bolts. Often, the helmet was made in a decorative and artistic fashion and the different colors and type of helmet would be indicative of the rank of the samurai or the group he belonged to. The helmet has a tehen, a small hole right at its crown, through which protrudes out the samurai's long hair.
  • Shikoro - This was an essential part of the samurai armor. Protecting vulnerable parts of the body such as the back of the head, the neck and the cheekbone, this was made of thick plates attached to the bowl of the helmet. Also, the top four plates of the Shikoro, could be inverted to form the fukigaeshi. This fukigaeshi could protect the the shikoros cords from getting sliced vertically.
  • Mabisashi - The visor of the helmet, this was designed to have a cone like protrusion that would shield the samurai against downward strikes of the enemy.

As mentioned earlier in the article, the yoroi was only used by the horse-mounted samurai. Foot soldiers required much more flexibility and hence wore a much lighter variety of armor known as the Do Maru. This armor was designed so that it closely fitted the body of the foot soldier and provided far more maneuverability. Later on, the mounted samurai too adopted the Do Maru type of armors in place of the yoroi.

Though designed for protection during war, skilled craftsman made the armors a subject to showcase their artistic skills during peaceful periods of no war. The helmets, especially, became more and more elaborate and are considered excellent examples of artwork. Even to this day, interested collectors and appreciators of art, are enthusiastic about purchasing antique samurai armor suits.

About the Author:  Scott Harker is the publisher of several websites including: Pin-up Art, Sherlock Holmes Pastiches, and Gynecomastia.

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samuri weapons

News About Samurai Armor


Samurai exhibit at Cincinnati Art Museum offers up-close look at armor, weapons and culture
CINCINNATI -- "Dressed to Kill," the latest exhibit at Cincinnati Art Museum, offers an up-close look at samurai armor, weapons and culture -- and a good dose of Cincinnati history and trivia. The exhibit, which runs through May 7, displays 130 warrior ...

The News Record

'Dress to Kill: Japanese Arms and Armor'
The News Record
The Cincinnati Art Museum presented an Art After Dark series entitled “Dress to Kill: Japanese Arms and Armor” Friday, featuring a variety of Japanese artwork and samurai culture from the 16th century through the 19th century. The 130 warrior-related ...

The Watchdog

BC learns the ways of the samurai
The Watchdog
For the second half of Miyuchi's presentation, she showed replicas of katchu, or samurai armor. She placed traditional samurai garb onto a student, and spoke about each item as she put them on him. The katchu she demonstrated included shin guards ...


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PR Newswire (press release)

Casio G-SHOCK Unveils New Akazonae-Inspired MR-G
PR Newswire (press release)
Nodding to G-SHOCK's Japanese heritage and strength, the new MRGG1000B-1A4 is designed to represent the colors found in elite samurai armor. A black titanium bezel and band, with red lettering and gold IP accents give this MR-G an ultra-refined look ...

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Cincinnati CityBeat (blog)

Samurai Armor as a Fashion Statement
Cincinnati CityBeat (blog)
Child's suit of armor at Cincinnati Art MuseumPhoto: Hailey BollingerWith a title like Dressed to Kill: Japanese Arms & Armor, you might think this is purely a warlike exhibit, aiming for throngs of young (and older) men rushing to the Cincinnati Art ...


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Speedrunner Coolkid, aka DaBiGBoOi, won this weekend's sixth ever Best of NES Big 20 Race, a competition in which players see who can finish a bunch of old ...

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The Post

TV Review: Second episode of Samurai Jack features introspection, destruction and blood
The Post
Flashes of black disarm him and destroy his armor, leaving the samurai vulnerable. The Daughters of Aku have found him. Jack manages to find a hiding place, where he is confronted by a shimmering blue apparition of himself. In a scene that parallels ...
Samurai Jack: "XCIII" ReviewIGN
'Samurai Jack' Season 5 Recap: Jack Deals With A Gruesome Death, Aku Returns In 'XCIII'Counsel & Heal

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FOX 61

Cartoons meet culture at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exhibit
FOX 61
"The Ninja Turtles meet samurai warriors," said Julia Courtney, curator at the Springfield Museums. The museum has combined Japanese Armor and treasured wood block prints with the pop art of Ninja Turtle memorabilia and paintings. The Teenage Mutant ...

Nikkei Asian Review

Tokyo studio fulfills every samurai-to-be's dreams
Nikkei Asian Review
... in full armor and topknot just so? A Tokyo studio can fulfill your dream, at least for a day, and make a video of it with the assistance of a professional fight scene choreographer. The Samurai Sword Training plan is offered by Sengoku Photo Studio ...

Google News

Build Samurai Armor! Become an ancient warrior the indie way