The history of Japanese yoroi armor

You may have seen on TV or film, because recently, there are many films set in Japan such as 

“Last Samurai”.


There are armors in western or oriental countries, but Japanese yoroi armors are completely

different in their appearance and construction.

Their function and gorgeous appearance attire people in all over the world.

In this article, I would like to tell you about the history of Japanese yoroi armor.

Still, Japanese yoroi armors exist from ancient epoch, Yayoi era for example,

but as it is rare to see these yoroi armors, so this article will not mention about them,

but will mention about those after Heian era ( from AD 794 to AD 1192).


As the first objective of armor is defense, depending on the enemy’s development of

attacking weapon and changes in fighting style, armors changed their forms.

Of course, weapons and armors are in deep relationship.


・Yoroi armors in Heian era and Kamakura era (from AD 794 to AD 1336)

In wars of Heian era and Kamakura era (from AD 794 to AD 1336), attacks with archeries,

swords or nagamaki swords were basically used  and they fought on horses, not infantry.

In battles with archeries on horses, samurais on horses attacked enemies on horses by archeries.

Ooyoroi armors are efficient armors for these battles with archeries on horses.


Ooyoroi armors are made to be able to move in battles with archeries on horses,

and to defend itself from archeries.

When the samurai pulls the bow, the enemy will see his left side, so a Kyuubinoita,

which is like a little plate, will defend under his left arm.

Oosode will serve as a shield, and the samurai will be protected by enemy’s arrow.


On the other hand, a stretchable material called kozane was used in ooyoroi armor,

so it was easy to move, and this was an armor suitable for both attack and defense.


・Yoroi armor in Nanbokucyo era and Muromachi era (from AD 1336 to AD 1467)

In Nanbokucyo era and Muromachi era (from AD 1336 to AD 1467), conflict among

samurais were harsh, and battles were incessant.

The battles developed into tug-of-war of a castle in the top of the mountain,

which is geographic.

The samurais fought in group, not alone anymore.

The needs in swords or spears grew than the needs in archeries, and the armors

should be more movable.


Haramaki is called so because it protects only the stomach.

As it is simpler than ooyoroi armor, it was suitable for infrantry battles.

Japanese haramaki yoroi armor

・Yoroi armors in Sengoku era and Aduchi Momoyama era (from AD 1467 to 1603)

In Sengoku era and Aduchi Momoyama era (from AD 1467 to 1603), as pistols were transmitted to Japan, kacchu armors are changed greatly, too. Touseigusoku appeared here.

Touseigusoku was firs made to defend from spears, but as pistols appeared, hooate,

nodowa, haidate etc. were used.

Touseigusoku Japanese yoroi armor


・Yoroi armors in Edo era (from AD 1603 to AD 1867)

As well as Sengoku Era, in Edo era, touseigusoku was the principal armor.

In the start of Edo era, stronger gusoku armors were made, and at the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, light leather kacchu armor was a trend, but as pistols developed sharply,

kacchu armor was out of date.


Here was a brief history and changes in Japanese yoroi armor.

The details of each yoroi armor will be explained in other articles.

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