HOME > Feature Articles > Purchasing Good Quality Samurai Armor in Japan and Overseas: Visit to the Armory Store Tokyo (Marutake Industries)

Author: Jessica Gerrity(Instagram/Twitter @jessintokyo)


Hello everyone, this is Budo Japan Ambassador Jessica. 

Ever since I was very small I have been interested in armour of all types. Until I arrived in Japan 22 years ago my main interest was Roman gladiator armour or European knights armour. I loved King Arthur and the Knight of the Roundtable and manga like Asterix and Obelix. Here in Japan, samurai armour is the most visible and accessible with a long and rich history. As seen all over the world, different changes in weapons development and methods of warfare have lead to changes in armour design and manufacture which I find very fascinating.

My favourite type of samurai armour is the very boxy looking Oyoroi.

Oyoroi is a Heian Period armour which was predominantly worn by horseback samurai who fought with bows and arrows. The design of the armour is something which I have studied in detail over the years. Sometime in the future I hope to own my own full sized replica Oyoroi. Shooting with a yumi on horseback in oyoroi would be a dream come true.

Procuring armour for personal use is something which can be quite time consuming depending on what it is you are looking for. I have three sets of armour at home all of which are used/ second hand and Showa period replicas. I am always on the lookout for places in and around Tokyo that sell both antique and replica armour, 

The other day I visited a wonderful armor showroom right in the heart of Tokyo in an area called The Armory Store Tokyo. Even after living in Japan all this time I never knew this showroom existed! I was happy and excited to hear that the famous Marutake Industries pieces were available to view and purchase in Tokyo. In this article I will talk about Marutake Industries armour and about The Armory Store Tokyo.

Marutake Industries Armour

The armour for sale and on display at the Armory Store Tokyo is made by Marutake Industries or as Armour lovers in Japan say, `Marutake` for short. Marutake are quite well known here in Japan for making the many sets of armor required for Samurai movies. One quite famous example is the Akira Kurosawa film Ran/ Revolt for which Marutake provided the armour. Marutake provides armor to museums, historical festivals, kabuki plays, and wedding ceremonies etc. You can even find their armor in restaurants or galleries as it is also available to rent for special occasions. The main factory and showroom is located in Kagoshima Prefecture. Marutake armour has been designated and certified as one of Kagoshima Prefectures  Traditional Crafts by the Kagoshima Prefectural Government.

The artisans working at Marutake make accurate reproductions of samurai armor worn by actual samurai warriors in battlefields. Instead of mass producing reproduction armour from a blueprint, Marutake armour artesians rely on memory and years of experience producing the parts that they themselves specialise in. This gives every set of armour a slightly different look even if it is the same design.

Close attention is paid to material used in production. Wherever possible period authentic materials such as iron, leather, cotton, horsetail/yak hair, lacquer are used. Methods of production by Marutake’s artisans are traditional wherever possible. They cut, bend, hammer, color, stitch by hand, with iron plates used for their armour being hammered one by one. Machines are not used which means that for one set of armour up to 30 artisans may be involved in the entire crafting process.

Production of armour is started once an order is received. As it is handmade usually it takes between 1 to 2 months for the set to be completed. Custom armour orders with special colours or very large sizes take a little longer but are always welcomed.

Visiting the Armory Store Tokyo was an amazing experience. The location is very central with easy access from both Ochanomizu and Akihabara Stations. I walked from Ochanomizu taking in the sights of Tokyo as I walked to the shop.

The Armory Store has approximately 10 or more sets of armour on display and available for purchase at any given time. The shop and its staff are friendly and speak English, however visiting the shop is strictly by appointment only. Booking can be done via an online form in the link below this article. Staff are very knowledgeable on armour history, materials and all the specifics of the armour they sell.  Depending on the day the shop stocks waraji sandals, tatsuki bakama (the hakama worn under armour), jinbaori overcoats and many other items of clothing and accessories worn under and over armour. The clothing that goes underneath the armour was something that I have always had trouble sourcing and purchasing even here in Japan. So I was very pleased to be able to find several items that I had been looking for.

If you plan to visit Tokyo please be sure to make a reservation and check out The Armory Store Tokyo. If you have extra time please visit Marutake Industries in Kagoshima too!

 

Further Information:

TOKYO Armory Store Ochanomizu: MARUTAKE Armory Store
2-1-15 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku,
Tokyo 101-0021

Appointment required via the website below:
https://samurai-store.com/en/tokyo-armory.html

Store Hours: Wednesday-Monday 11:00am – 6:00pm
English available
Email: info@samurai-store.com

Marutake Industries English website
Overseas Shipping Available
https://samurai-armor.shop/

Twitter/X English
http://twitter.com/SamuraiStore

Instagram English
https://www.instagram.com/samuraiarmour/

Marutake Industries Websites and Social Media
https://twitter.com/samuraiarmour
www.instagram.com/marutake_industries
http://yoroi.co.jp/