YOROIs and KABUTOs are two major types of old Japanese armors which were worn during battles. |
From the simple ones made of cottten and leather, they gradually developed into more sterdy ones made of metal plates or metal plates wrapped in leather.
In addition, DO-MARU or HARAMAKI, a kind of yoroi for wrapping and protecting the body like a cylinder came to be produced with small, leaf-like metal plates that were connected in crisscross with leather or rope.
On DO-MARU, there were flaps called KUSA-ZURI that hanged from the waist to the leg. Do-maru was a yoroi for lower class samurai warriors, and higher class commanders wore O-YOROI. O-yoroi was desiged to allow an easier horseback riding and arrow shooting.
On the head, HOSHI-KABUTO which was made of metal plates were worn together. It was called hoshi-kabuto (HOSHI stands for a star), because of the nails that held the metal plates. The nail heads seen on the surface of the plates were called HOSHI.
Kabutos were worn to display one's achievements, and many different types of kabutos were made during the SENGOKU period.
During KOFUN period, TAN-KOU, a short yoroi that protected the upper body, was used. KAKE-KOU, that covers the whole body, is said to have come from Korea during this period. |
O-yoroi and hoshi-kabuto were armors that were worn for protecting the body by higher class commanders during HEIAN and KAMAKURA periods. It's elegant and gorgious design is the characteristic of the armor, and it very well reflected the taste that the warriors had during those period.
During the latter half of KAMAKURA period, there were Mongol attacks (GENKO). When fighting against a group in files, foot soldiers wore DO-MAKI and HARA-MAKI which allowed them more movement. Do-maki and hara-maki were more suitable than those yorois that were not effective unless worn while on horseback. Therefore, during NAN-BOKU-CHO through MUROMACHI period, higher class commanders began wearing do-maki and hara-maki. Also, kabutos with metal wires became more popular than hoshi-kabutos.
In AZUCHI-MOMOYAMA period, GUSOKU or foot protector made of metal plates appearred due to spread of guns. Hinges were used to connect the sides of yorois, and kusazuri changed into having 7 to 8 flaps to make walking easier. These armors were common until around the beginning of EDO period.