Building 1550's Japanese retainer's armor
By Sir Ogami Akira


The articles that follow will explain and describe how you can build your own suit of 1550's Japanese retainer's armor (or ‘box armor') out of plastic barrels and nylon lacing. The pattern is reasonably historically accurate, with a few modifications having been made to account for the reality of SCA combat. This series will cover every part of the armor with the exception of the kabuto (helm) and gauntlets.

It would be wise to read through every section completely before you begin. Get an idea of what you want the armor to look like, and think about how it all fits together.

The plans are split into two major sections:

  • 1. Materials, Tools, and Techniques.
    In this first section we'll cover the materials and the recommended tools you will need. We'll go over the techniques of working with plastic. (Plastic is easier than steel or leather, but there are some things you will need to know to make it go smoothly and safely and to have it turn out looking good.) Then I will show you the different techniques of lacing you will need in order to put the armor together.

  • 2. Pattern Making and Parts Construction, and Assembly.
    This is the part where you get to play with tape, scissors, and construction paper! Then you get to play with extremely dangerous power tools and fire!

  • General Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) blows his conch shell horn to sound the attack on the forces besieging the fort of Shizugatake Hill.

    Shizu Peak Moon; Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892), 1888

    (Source: IMSI MasterClips)

    I promise that I will keep Japanese terminology to an absolute minimum. When I feel like it, I will add suggestions for decoration. The sections will be completed and posted in no particular order. If you have any questions or problems, I am available through this site.


    Section 1 -- Materials, sources, tools, techniques, and suggestions

    Section 2 -- Pattern Making and assembly

  • Part One -- The Do (torso armor)
  • Part Two -- The Sode (shoulder armor)
  • Part Three -- The Kusa-zuri (waist armor)
  • Part Four -- The Hai-date (thigh armor)
  • Part Five -- The Suni-ate (knee and shin armor)
  • Part Six -- The Kote (arm and elbow armor)
  • Part Seven -- The Nodawa (throat armor)
  • Part Eight -- The Fuzzy Shoes (fuzzy shoes)
  • Part Nine -- The Sashimono (back flag)
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