Kabuto – Samurai Helmet

Kabuto Helmet is a type of helmet used in ancient Japan by warriors. These Samurai helmets are worn by Samurai warriors and their retainers during feudal Japan.

This Samurai helmet is an important part of the Samurai equipment. This plays a symbolical role. The typical head armor has more than a hundred or three hundred metal plates riveted together.

These are arranged together form a small opening found on top of the Samurai helmet. The rivets can be raised or hammered flat. Another form of rivet looks like a filed flush. Some of the finer ones are signed by their makers.

Kabuto has a suspended neck guard known as Shikoro. The lamellar Samurai helmet armor with Kusari or Mail armor was the standard technology used for these Samurai helmets.

Some Shikoro were made of mail sewn-in cloth lining and referred to as Kusari Shikoro. These are adorned with crests referred to as datemono or tatemono.

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Parts of the Kabuto

  • Hachi. These are composed of dome shape overlapping elongated plates referred to as tate hagi-no-ita.
  • Mabizashi. This is a visor found in front of the Hachi.
  • Fukigaeshi. These are a wing or ear-like projections found on the side of the Hachi.
  • Ukebari. Clothing found inside the Samurai helmet.
  • Tehen. This is the small opening found on top of the Hachi. This comes with an ornamental grommet that resembles a chrysanthemum.
  • Tsunamoto. This is the mounting point to which crests are attached.
  • Shikoro. This is a suspended neck guard composed of overlapping lames. This is secured in place by using the chin cord.
Rama [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr], via Wikimedia Commons

Types of Kabuto

  • Hachi-bachi. Has multiple plates Japanese hachi without ribs or ridges shown on the helmet plates.
  • Hoshi-bachi or Star helmet bowl. This is a Samurai helmet that has protruding rivet heads. The rivets are a mixture of small and large rivets with a chrysanthemum shaped washer on its base.
  • Jingasa. These are war hats available in various shapes worn by foot soldiers and Samurai. These are either made of metal or leather.
  • Kaji. These are worn by Samurai firemen.
  • Suji bachi. This is composed of a multiple plate type of Japanese helmet with raised ridges or ribs where the plates merge together.
  • Tatami. This is used by lower-ranking Samurai or foot soldiers (ashigaru). Some of these have collapsible tatami made out of articulated lames. This type does not use rivets in its construction. It uses chain mail or laces to connect each piece together.
  • Zunari. It has a simple five plate design.

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Strange Looking Helmet

During the Momoyama period, there was an intense civil war. The helmet’s design during this period was made of simple designs. These lack the ornamental feel to it often found in earlier helmets.

Since these are plain in design armorers build fantastic looking shapes on top of these helmets. The shapes were inspired by Japanese culture and mythology. A simple version has paper mache mixed with lacquer over a wooden material.

Some were constructed using iron. The usual forms look like the head of Japanese gods, fish, cow horns and may be made of bolts of silk. Some versions use headscarves instead, while some have axe head.