Nihon Katchû Seisakuben
Online Japanese Armour Manual


       Arai Hakuseki. The Armour Book in Honchô Gunkikô. Trans. by Y. Ôtsuka. Ed. by H. Russell Robinson. The Holland Press. 1964.
       This is a translation of the armour section of a book on historical arms and armour written by a historian in 1700. It does for twelfth- to fifteenth-century armours what Sakakibara Kôzan's book does for later ones. (The author of this manual once owned an original set of the 12-volume Honchô Gunki-kô, printed in 1700, but it was stolen from him years ago by a former SCA acquaintance in the late 1980s in Florida. If anyone knows of its whereabouts, please let me know, as I'd like to get it back to the library. It can be identified by the Indiana University Library stamps on the slipcase. A reward is offered...)

       ________. Honchô gunki kô (A treatise on military accouterments of Japan). In vol. 6 of Arai Hakuseki zenshû, pp. 276-453. Tokyo Naigai Insatsu: 1908.
       This is a a modern printing of Hakuseki's treatise in his Complete Works. It's in a very painful-to-read prose form of Japanese, but at least it's legible....

       Asano Seiichi. Kabuto no mikata (Looking at helmets). Yûzankaku. Tokyo. 1976.
       This is a detailed look at kabuto from the sixteenth century, focussing on zû-nari ("head-shaped") helmets. Excellent photographs and much useful information.

       Bottomley, Ian. Japanese Armor: The Galeno Collection. Berkeley, CA. Stone Bridge Press, 1998.
       This book consists entirely of impressive full-page photographs (many in color) of the armour and related accouterments in the collection of Dr. W. A. Galeno. Almost all the armour is post-Period, but there are several wonderful things to look at. Armours in this book should not be reproduced until one grocks Japanese armour well enought to know which elements to exclude as post-Period and which ones to run screaming from as hideously post-Period wierdness.

       Bottomley, Ian and A.P. Hopson. Arms and Armor of the Samurai. Crescent Books, NYC. 1988.
       The photographs in this oversized book are wonderful. Some of the armours are typical of the Age of Battles, although there are some wonderful eccentricities (such as the Edo Era "tengû armour"). Many armours are from the Arashiyama Art Museum in Kyôto.

       Bryant, Anthony J. Early Samurai 200-1500 AD. Osprey Elite Series #35. London: Osprey Books, 1991.
       This is the second book by the author of this manual. This book covers the earlier period. As with all Osprey books, it is readily available.

       ________. Samurai 1550-1600. Osprey Warrior Series #7. London: Osprey Books, 1994.
       This, the author's third book, focuses on the training, equipment, clothing, arms and armour, and daily life of the samurai in the Age of Battles.

       ________. Sekigahara 1600. Osprey Campaign Series # 40. London: Osprey Books, 1995.
       This is the author's fourth book; it concentrates on the events leading up to the Battle of Sekigahara. Many photographs of arms and armour.

       ________. The Samurai. Osprey Elite Series #23.London: Osprey Books, 1989.
       The first book by this author. Many photographs.

       Suzuki Keizô. Gassen emaki: bushi no sekai. (Battle scroll: The world of the bushi). Tokyo: Mainichi Shinbunsha, 1993.
       This colorful, oversized book displays re-creations of the day-to-day life of Kamakura samurai. Included are several armours made by Suzuki Keizô, the teacher of this author's teacher, when he was a young man.

       Inoue Toshi. Katchû chakuyô ben (Book on the wearing of armour). Edo, 1808.
       This two-volume block-printed book was intended to explain various armour parts and their function to late Edo Period samurai.

       Kanagawa no katchû meihinten (A presentation of famous works of armour in Kanagawa). Editor, Hayashi Yasuhito. (Kanagawa Branch of the Nihon Katchû Bugu Kenkyû Hozon Kai.) 1988.
       This is a short, all-color catalogue of helmets and armours in Kanagawa which was produced by the local branch of the Japan Arms and Armour Research and Preservation Society. Some of them are particularly impressive.

       Kaneda-Chappelear, Kei. Japanese Armor Makers for the Samurai. Miyoshi Printing Company, Tokyo. 1987.
       This slender volume focuses only on signed works of several famous schools, and concentrates on helmets. As such, it is a good study of the styles that different schools followed. Much of the material is technically post-Period, but the styles are easy to figure out. The typos might drive you crazy. Kei is a member of the Kenkyû-kai.

       Katchû bugu kenkyû (Study of Japanese Arms and Armour). Nihon Katchû Bugu Kenkyû Hozon Kai. Tôkyô. Quarterly.
       This is the in-house journal of the Japan Arms and Armour Research and Preservation Sociey. It is always informative, and is in general an excellent publication.

       Maruyama Nobuhiko. Clothing of Samurai Warriors. Kyôto Arts Library of Japanese Textiles vol. 3. Kyôto Shoin Co., Ltd., Kyôto. 1994.
       There is only a little information on armour in this little book, but there is plenty of material (no pun intended) on clothing worn by samurai.

       Mathews, David (AKA Sven Vandeleven, KSCA, OL). "Japanese Retainer Armour 1550," The Hammer. Reprinted in The Best of The Hammer, vol. 2. Ed. Brian Flax. Raymond's Quiet Press, Albuquerque, NM. 1985.
       This is an early SCA attempt to describe how to reconstruct a Japanese armour, written by an armouring Laurel from Meridies. It is a very good basic study, but much of the details are incorrect and some of the key pieces (like the formation of the cuirass) are wrong. Still, it is useful, and an admirable early work.

       Miyazaki Takamune. Sengoku kawari kabuto (Grotesque helmets of the age of battles). Kadokawa Shoten, Tôkyô. 1984.
       This lovely coffee table book presents some of the most impressive examples of "grotesques" -- built up and ornamented helmets -- of the Age of Battles. Some of them are just downright weird.

       Munroe, Alexandra, ed. Spectacular Helmets of Japan. Kodansha International, Tôkyô. 1985.
       This coffeetable book on kawari kabuto is the product of an exhibition of the same that took place in New York and San Francisco in 1985. Many of the helmets are the same ones from Miyazaki's book, but the text is in English.

       Nihon no katchû (Japanese armour). Kyôto National Museum. 1989.
       This coffee table book on armour is half color plates, and half text. Although the text is in Japanese, there are abbreviated English-language captions in the back. It is an excellent -- albeit limited -- study of the development and decoration of armour in Japan.

       Ôyamazumi Jinja. Ôyamazumi Shrine, Ômishima Island. 1989.
       This is a catalogue of armours and weapons in Ôyamazumi Shrine. Some of Japan's finest old armours are located here.

       Sakakibara Kôzan. The Manufacture of Armour and Helmets in Sixteenth Century Japan. Trans. by T. Wakameda. Revised by A.J. Koop and Hogitarô Inada (1912). Revised and edited by H. Russell Robinson (1962). The Holland Press, Ltd. London. © 1962. Second impression, 1979.
       This is probably the definitive English-language text on the construction of Japanese armour during the Age of Battles. It is a translation of a work dated 1800 (Chûko katchû seisakuben), and is full of details that are simply unavailable elsewhere in English. Unfortunately, the quality of the illustrations is often not what we could wish for, and many of the line drawing are simply wrong; but with this text, one can't easily go wrong.

       Sasama Yoshihiko. Katchû kantei hikkei (Armour appraisal handbook). Yûzankaku Eigyôbu, Tokyo. 1985.
       This volume has many excellent photographs and diagrams on the construction and decoration of Japanese armour.

       ________. Katchû no subete (All about armour). PHP Institute, Inc., Tokyo. 1997.
       This short volume contains several excellent photographs and paintings by Sasama. It is a short history for the interested layman, but contains much useful material even for the armourer. It is an inexpensive paperback, easily ordered from Japan.

       ________. Nihon katchû daikan (Encyclopedia of Japanese armour). Yûzankaku Eigyôbu, Tôkyô. 1987.
       Prof. Sasama's fattest single volume (at 1374 pages) is mostly text, but there are some useful illustrations and photographs. An excellent resource for the Japanophone who wants to do serious research.

       ________. Nihon katchû meihinshû (A collection of famous works of Japanese armour). Yûzankaku Eigyôbu, Tôkyô. 1968.
       Several dozen full-page photographs of justifiably famous armours grace this book; the facing pages are Japanese-language text about the armour.

       ________. Nihon no gunsô (Japanese armourial accouterments). Vol. 1. Yûzankaku Eigyôbu, Tôkyô. 1970.
       This book is lavishly illustrated in Prof. Sasama's peculiar style. It is wonderful for providing examples of variations of particular styles. The volume also has considerable details on tangentally related material like camp curtains.

       ________. Nihon no mei kabuto (Famous Japanese helmets). 3 vols. Yûzankaku Eigyôbu, Tôkyô. 1972.
       This is a wonderful photographic study of many dozens of famous and well-produced kabuto.

       ________. Nihon kassen zuten (Illustrated dictionary of Japanese battle scrolls). Yûzankaku Eigyôbu, Tôkyô. 1997.
       This heavily illustrated, thick paperback is a treasure-trove of information on Japanese military gear and armour.

       ________. Nihon no kassen bugu jiten (Dictionary of military gear in Japanese battle scrolls). Kashiwa shobô, Tôkyô. 1999
       Sasama's detailed illustrations and in-depth explanations of everything from horse tack to armour to camp gear and siege equipment of all periods of Japanese history through the Tokugawa period make this a very useful work for those with an interest in Japanese militaria.

       ________. Zukai nihon katchû jiten (An Illustrated Dictionary of Japanese Armour).Yûzankaku Eigyôbu, Tôkyô. 1973.
       Prof. Sasama and Yûzankaku do it again. This volume is possibly the second most useful of all Sasama's books. Although the text is of course Japanese, the great number of illustrations is a boon to the student. It was recently reprinted and is probably still available.

       Suenaga Masao. Nihon Jôdai no Katchû (Japan's ancient armours). Hajimotosha, saka. 1944.
       This mammoth volume is the book for those interested in ancient (i.e., pre-ninth century) armours in Japan. Professor Suenaga reconstructed nearly every archaeological find to date and lovingly photographed the resulting armours and construction details. Unfortunately, most of the print-run of 1,500 was bombed out of existence in WWII. The author of this pamphlet owns the only known copy in the United States -- formerly the property of the Imperial Naval Academy.

       Sôma no kabuto (Helmets of Sôma). (Fukushima Branch of the Nihon Katchû Bugu Kenkyû Hozon Kai.) Ed. Oyamada Hiroshi.Haragamachi, Fukushima Pref. 1989.
       This hardcover, slipcased, full-color book presents some of the spectacular helmets in the Sôma region (in northern Honshû). Most of the pieces are Edo Period, but many are stylistically in keeping with the earlier helmets. Wonderful!

       Tetsu to urushi no geijutsu: Kyôto Arashiyama Bijutsukan zôhinshû (Steel and lacquer: Collected treasures of the Kyôto Arashiyama Art Museum). Kyôto Arashiyama Bijutsukan, Kyôto, Japan. 1986
       This is a wonderful, large, full-color catalogue of some of the treasures of the Arashiyama Art Museum in Kyôto. Most of the armours and weapons of the collection (some of which is really off the wall) appear therein. A word of warning: much of the material is Edo Period, and not all of it is clearly so indicated.

       Yamagami Hachirô and Yamagishi Motoo. Yoroi to kabuto (Armour and helmets). Color Books Series #334. Hoikusha. Tôkyô. 1975
       This tiny Japanese art book is one in a long series of tiny Japanese art books, but don't let that fool you. It's a treasury of clear, detailed photographs, and was written by two of the most knowledgeable men in the field. Personally, I love this little book.

       Yamagami Hachirô. Japan's Ancient Armour. Board of Tourist Industries Japanese Government Railways. Tôkyô. 1940.
       This small, hard-to-find pamphlet was put out as one in a series of books on historical arts when Japan was trying to encourage tourism and friendship (check the date). There are some nice photographs, including a few rare ones of some Myôchin armourers at work in their shop.

       ________. Nihon katchû hyaku-sen (One-hundred select Japanese armours). Akita Shoten. Tôkyô. 1974.
       Not all of the "100 armours" here are full suits of armour; some are just bits and pieces which Prof. Yamagami felt deserving of spotlighting. There are 100 photos and textual explanations of the subjects of the photographs. Not a great book, but a decent one.

       Yamagishi Motoo and Miyazaki Norisumi. Nihon katchû no kiso chishiki (Basic knowledge of Japanese armour). Yûzankaku Eigyôbu, Tôkyô. 1990.
       This is the text on the construction of Japanese armour, written by past masters of the craft. There are photographs and line drawings in here you won't find anyplace else (except maybe in this pamphlet).

       Yamagishi Motoo. Nihon katchû no jisshôteki kenkyû (An empirical study of Japanese armour). Tsukubane Co., Tôkyô. 1997.
       This huge volume is the single, most detailed book on the construction of historical armour. In each chapter it analyzes the construction (with painstaking detail and measurements) of a single suit of armour. The photographs show things no other book does; in fact, the only way to see more is to actually work on some of these armours in varied museums and shrines all over Japan. This and Yamagishi's other books (Nihon katchû ronshû and Nihon katchû no kiso chishiki) are a virtual do-it-yourself course in Japanese armouring. This is a book for the serious armourer (who can speak Japanese). Be warned, though: it costs about $500.

       ________. Nihon katchû ronshû (Collected discourses on Japanese armour). Tsukubane Co., Tôkyô. 1991.
       I used to think this was the single, most detailed book on the construction of historical armour. until Jisshôteki came out. It contains such minutia as the scale-count on hundreds of armours, including measurements on the scales and other pieces. There aren't many photographs, but if you read Japanese it can't be beat. In fact, this book, which was privately published, contains much of the extremly detailed material that the publishers of Kiso chishiki felt wouldn't have as much commercial value. This is a book for the serious armourer. It was recently reprinted.

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