Edo period karuta tatami dō gusoku. A lightweight portable folding (tatami) armour made from small square or rectangle armor plates called karuta. The karuta are usually connected to each other by chainmail and sewn to a cloth backing, Met Museum New York.

Tatami (畳具足), or tatami gusoku (from 畳む tatamu, "to fold", and gusoku, "full suit of armour"),[1] was a type of lightweight portable folding Japanese armour worn during the feudal era of Japan by the samurai class and their foot soldiers (ashigaru). The Tatami dō (a foldable cuirass) or the tatami katabira (an armoured jacket) were the main components of a full suit of tatami armour.[2]


A tatami gusoku (complete suit of folding armor) includes a tatami dō or tatami katabira (jacket) and a tatami kabuto (helmet) chochin kabuto,[3] or tatami zukin (hood) or similar type of head protection along with the other related parts of a full suit of Japanese armour. Collapsible head protection such as hachi gane and other collapsible armor are also tatami armor;[4] a traditional kabuto could also be part of a tatami gusoku.

Tatami armour was lightweight, portable, convenient for transportation, and they were manufactured inexpensively for the ashigaru light infantry.[5] Tatami armours were worn by all samurai classes from the highest class to the lowest class. The higher class samurai wore elaborate armour[1] while the lower class samurai and retainers wore simpler versions.

In his book Arms and Armor of the Samurai: The History of Weaponry in Ancient Japan[2] Ian Bottomley shows a karuta tatami do and a karuta tatami kabuto (p. 88), and discusses different types of tatami dō karuta gane dō and kikko gane dō on p. 91. George Cameron Stone shows a kikko tatami armor on p. 606 of his book A glossary of the construction, decoration, and use of arms and armor.[4]

Types of Tatami armour

Karuta tatami armour

Kikko tatami armour

Kusari tatami armour

See also


  1. ^ a b c Bryant, Anthony J.; McBride, Angus (2010). The Samurai: Warriors of Medieval Japan, 940-1600. Osprey Publishing. p. 63.
  2. ^ a b c Bottomley, Ian (1993). Hopson, Anthony (ed.). Arms and Armor of the Samurai: The History of Weaponry in Ancient Japan. Crescent Books. pp. 88, 91, 92. ISBN 9780517103180.
  3. ^ Louis, Thomas; Ito, Tommy (2008). Samurai: The Code of the Warrior. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 98. ISBN 9781402763120.
  4. ^ a b Stone, George Cameron (1999). Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times. Courier Corporation. p. 606. ISBN 9780486407265.
  5. ^ a b Bryant, Anthony J. (20 February 2013). McBride, Angus (ed.). Samurai 1550-1600. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 59. ISBN 9781472801777.
  6. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (22 May 2007). Warriors of Medieval Japan. Bloomsbury USA. p. 138. ISBN 9781846032202.
  7. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge. Vol. 15. Encyclopedia Americana Corporation. 1919. pp. 742–744.
  8. ^ Dean, Bashford (1920). Helmets and Body Armor in Modern Warfare. New York, N.Y.: Yale University Press, Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 172.