Menpo – Facial Body Armor

Menpo is also known as Mempo or Mengu. At times it is also referred to as Men Yoroi. Menpo mask is worn by Samurai and their retainers during Feudal Japan.

These Samurai helmets belong to different kinds of Japanese facial armor. The different kinds of Menpo include Somen, Hanpo, and Happuri. Mempo secures the face and the Kabuto or helmet.

The Shinobi-no-o or chin cords are tied under the chin. In later versions, the use of small hooks referred to as Ori-kugi or posts known as odome is located on different places of the helmet to again, secure the Kabuto in place with the help of chin cords.

Menpo masks can be made of iron or leather. Although some versions use both materials and finishing uses lacquered or rust types finish.

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There are even details added to this Samurai helmets part which includes fierce-looking teeth, detachable nose, and mustaches. The goal was to terrify the enemy with just one look at this armor.

Most mempo has a small hole under the chin to allow sweat to drain through it with the exception of Happuri. These masks are similar to those used by ancient Chinese armies from the Han and Song Dynasties.

Samurai Mask

Samurai masks are sources of fascination especially for those who like anything Japanese. Menpo is the facial guard for Japanese helmets. The nose and upper lips are removable to make it easier for the user to eat, drink and talk.

This is commonly referred to as a visor but, it is used not just as protection from the rays of the sun. Menpo mask has a metal covering for the entire features of the users. It has holes for eyes and nostrils.

This is made of a single plate and built of several hinged or locked together with the use of tuning pins. Since the Menpo mask is divided horizontally at eye level the upper part can be removed and the lower part worn on its own.


There are versions that are made of steel and are molded into shape. The evolution of these masks reflects the changing times in ancient Japan.

The features that have exaggerated snarls and grimaces were used during times of war, however, the masks that were produced later on do not have these exaggerated features.

Whatever kind of look there maybe this offers excellent defense against the enemies.

Different Kinds of Ho-Ate Menpo

  • So-Mempo. Covers the entire face
  • Hoate. This is a half mask covering the face below the eyes. This is made of several plates. This is often fastened with loose pins. This allows this mask to be turned back or taken apart before putting it back together when using it again
  • Sarubo or Monkey Face. This covers the cheeks and chins up to the eyes. This does not cover the mouth and nose though. The underside of the chin has a separate cover. This looks similar to the Hoate with the nose part removed
  • Tsubame-bo. This is a rare kind. It only covers the forehead and cheeks

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