In the 16th century Japanese body armour made a gradual transition, starting from kozane (many small scales laced tightly together), evolving to larger plates still laced together (lamellar armour), and finally to few large plates riveted together, or even solid breastplates.
Cheaper armours of tatami or kikko design continued in use throughout this period, sometimes even for high nobles. Mail was in common use as a component of other armour (armpit protection, for example), but not for body armour or full suits.
Throughout this period shino (splint) armour was the most common protection for vambraces and greaves. Cheap shino gave minimal protection. Regular shino filled the spaces between splints with mail. In extreme cases the splints might overlap, giving excellent protection equivalent to plate armour.
Lamellar armour was in common use even after plate breastplates came into favour in the later 16th century. Sode (pauldrons) and Kasazuri (tassets) were almost invariably of lamellar construction.
ARMOUR EQUIPMENT LIST
BODY ARMOUR: DO (Cuirass) and KUSAZURI (Tassets)
Tatami do: (folding armour)
Kikko do: (brigandine)
Kozane do: (scale armour)
Mogami do: (lamellar)
Kiritsuke kozane: (mock scale armour)
Okegawa do: (tub-sided armour)
Hara-ate: Plate half-armour. Breastplate and front tassets (locations 10-13, front only).
The okegawa do and hara-ate could be made proof against shot (DEF 8).
ARM ARMOUR: KOTE (Sleeves) and SODE (Pauldrons)
Cheap kote: Fabric sleeves protected by simple splints sewn to the outer part of the arm. This is common cheap armour for ashigaru, not fancy or very protective. Locations 6-9, all with activation roll 11-.
Full Kote: Full sleeves of tatami armour, or less commonly of kikko (brigandine). Mostly made for ashigaru, although sometimes worn as light armour by high nobles. Protects locations Locations 6-9. Location 6 has activation roll 11-. DEF 4. The inner arm was often unarmoured, giving activation roll 14- for locations 7-9. Not worn with sode (pauldrons).
Oda-gote: Sleeves of mail with attached tiny plates. Could be full sleeves as described here or worn with sode (pauldrons) as described below. Protects location 6 on 11-; locations 7-9 without activation roll. DEF 5.
Sode and Kote: Pauldrons and vambraces. The vast majority of sode were of lamellar construction; similarly, most kote were splints connected by mail or overlapping (DEF 5). Sode protect location 8 (upper arm) and 9 (shoulder); kote worn with sode protect location 6 (on 11-) and 7 (lower arm). Some samurai wore a manjuwa; an additional protective garment which covered the armpit with mail. Without a manjuwa, sode should be given an activation roll of 14- on locations 8-9. Similarly, many kote were unarmoured on the inner arm, so should be given an activation roll of 14- on hits to location 7. Shino (splint) kote that enclosed the forearm in a full protective tube were called tsutsu-gote, and have no activation roll on hit location 7.
Sode (lamellar) and manjuwa DEF 6, locations 8-9 Sode without manjuwa DEF 6, locations 8-9 (on 14-) Shino Kote DEF 5, locations 6 (11-) and 7 (14-) Tsutsu-gote DEF 5, locations 6 (11-) and 7 Oda-gote DEF 5, locations 6 (11-) and 7 Lamellar Kote DEF 6, locations 6 (11-) and 7 Plate kote DEF 7, locations 6 (11-) and 7
LEG ARMOUR: HAIDATE (Thigh-armour) and SUNEATE (Greaves)
Haidate: Haidate (thigh-plates) was additional thigh protection for foot combat. It was not always worn; many samurai preferred to keep greater mobility. Haidate give no protection against attacks from behind. They might be strapped to the leg or left flapping loose, in which case they might not protect against all attacks from the front either. Haidate were usually made of multiple small plates laced together, although tatami, kikko, mail and decorated mail versions were also constructed.
Tatami or kikko haidate DEF 4, locations 14-15 (front only) Mail or Oda-haidate DEF 5, locations 14-15 (front only) Lamellar haidate (most common) DEF 6, locations 14-15 (front only)
Sumeate: Suneate (greaves) were usually made to match the kote (vambrace). The vast majority of suneate were of shino (splint) construction. Cheap greaves gave no protection to the back of the leg; even fancier greaves still left much of the back of the leg unprotected. Armour marked `front only' will give no protection to attacks from behind. The foot (location 18) was invariably unprotected.
Cheap shino (splint) suneate DEF 3, locations 17-16 (front only) Tatami or kekko suneate DEF 4, locations 17 (front only) and 16 Oda-gote suneate DEF 5, locations 17 (front only) and 16 Shino suneate (most common) DEF 5, locations 17 (front only) and 16 Lamellar suneate DEF 6, locations 17 (front only) and 16 Plate suneate DEF 7, locations 17 (front only) and 16
Kabuto: Full helmet, almost always including shikoro (a lamellar skirt protecting the nape of the neck). Often worn with a nodowa (gorget) protecting the front of the neck. Mempo (face masks protecting the lower half of the face) were often worn, but full face armour (somen) was very uncomfortable and rarely worn. Although the somen was a single shaped metal plate, no padding was worn beneath it, so it gives much less protection than it would otherwise do.
Kabuto could be very fancy, with up to 120 plates. Simple kabuto were unfashionable because of their simplicity, even though they were much better armour and could be made shot-proof. Some helmets and shikoro were made of tatami armour as well, although these would only have been issued to ashigaru and low-ranking samurai.
Simple kabuto (shot-proof) DEF 8, locations 4-5 Simple kabuto (normal) DEF 7, locations 4-5 Fancy kabuto DEF 6, locations 4-5 Very fancy kabuto DEF 5, locations 4-5 Tatami kabuto DEF 4, locations 4-5 Somen DEF 4, location 3 Jingasa DEF 6, location 5
FULL ARMOUR: Most samurai would wear a kabuto, do and kusazari, sode and kote, plus suneate. Haidate might be worn or not. Kote and suneate were usually of similar construction, most commonly shino (splint). Full kote (rather than sode and kote) was less common.
Cheaper armour for ashigaru could be a kabuto or jingasa (or tatami kabuto with tatami armour), do and kusazari (both possibly of tatami construction), full kote, and suneate.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Tatami: folding armour. Common for lowest-born warriors, but sometimes used even by high nobles. Small metal plates connected by mail, usually over a lightly quilted lining. DEF 4. Even helmets could be made this way.
Kikko: hexagonal brigandine. Perhaps the most common type of non-solid armour. DEF 4.
Mail: Japanese mail was more loosely woven than European, and often incorporated intricate patterns. DEF 5.
Kozane: scale armour. DEF 5.
Lamellar: Most common armour for the Japanese warrior. The vast majority of Kusazuri (tassets) and Sode (shoulder protection) were of multiple lames laced together. Many Do (breastplates) were also constructed this way. DEF 6.
Shino: Splint armour. Commonest form of armour for the Kote (sleeves) and Suneate (greaves). DEF 5.
Suneate: greaves. Protection for the lower leg (locations 16-17). Usually of splint. Give reduced protection from behind (either no armour, or in some cases location 16 but not 17, only when struck from behind).
Haidate: thigh-shields. Protect location 14-15. Used for foot combat; many samurai didn't wear them, preferring to keep greater mobility. They do not protect against attacks from behind.
Shikoro: Lamellar neck-guard, depending from the helmet. Protects location 4.
Kote: armoured sleeves. Most commonly splints. Protect location 6-7. Location 6 is only protected on an 11-. With many kote the inner arm is not armoured, giving location 7 a 14- activation roll.
Kiritsuke Kozane: mock scale armour. Plate armour riveted together, but carefully cut to look like scale armour. DEF 7.
Do: Cuirass: body armour. Protects locations 10-12.
Kusazuri: Tassets. Protect locations 13-14.
Sode: similar to Kusazuri, but they protect locations 8-9. The inner arm and armpit are not armoured; this can be reflected by giving the armour an activation of 14- for Samurai who do not wear an additional protection for those areas (such armour existed, but was not commonly worn)
Okegawa do: plate cuirass. Used for the cuirass (locations 10-12), sometimes also with tassets (locations 13-14). DEF 8. Very popular and relatively inexpensive.
Hara-ate: plate half-armour. Breastplate and front tassets (locations 10-14, front only). DEF 8.
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