samurai 9

An extremely exciting part of Japanese culture that can be felt even in the recesses of modern Tokyo is its history with bushido: the way of the samurai. There were morals and rules and a strict code of honor that samurai followed and are even in this day still referred to for answers and strength.

But bushido is only a part of what makes a samurai a samurai, with another huge aspect being the look. A man in armor said as much about being a samurai as the practice of Bushido did. The name and place of every piece of armor is certainly daunting, but a very easy-to-understand illustration has surfaced on the Internet, and we are happy to report it’s in English!

Japanese armor evolved and changed over the centuries. With the introduction of steel and iron armor from Europe in the 16th century, the look of the armor changed into something much simpler from its earlier forms. This type of armor was called “Gusoku” and looked something like this.

samuraiImage: Japaaan Magazine

As you can see, there are a lot of pieces! The armor style has changed throughout the years, but there were always a few constant features, the helmet (kabuto), the breastplate (do) and the swords, usually two, katana and wakizashi.

Old style samurai armor. Worn before firearms were introduced to Japan.

samurai 3Image: Flickr (Mary & Jon)

samurai 4Image: Wikipedia (FreaksAnon)

Modern-style armor with the metal breast plate.

Image: Wikipedia (Traumrune)

samurai 6Image: Wikipedia (Rama)

Although there are no modern day samurai, their code for living and their armor live on. The Japanese sport of kendo is a fine example. Many aspects of the samurai armor are incorporated into the armor for kendo.

samurai 2Image: Wikipedia (Ningyou)

As entertaining as it would be to see kendo done with kabuto helmets, it would be hard to judge a head strike, so they’ve changed it to the much more practical and protective men style–one that doesn’t allow the opponent to poke your eye out!

We hope you enjoyed our little jaunt through history! With the knowledge of bushido and samurai armor, now you’ve got your own blueprints for putting a modern spin on classic armor!

samurai 8Image: Flickr (greylock)

Sources: Japaaan Magazine, Wikipedia
Top Image: Flickr (Lorianne DiSabato)