The Battle for the Sundered Realm - Armory

The Battle for Sekigahara

Battle of Sekigahara – Armor

As far back as the seventh century Japanese warriors wore a form of lamellar armour, this armour eventually evolved into the armour worn by the samurai. The first types of Japanese armours identified as samurai armour were known as yoroi. These early samurai armours were made from small individual scales kozane. The kozane were made from either iron or leather and were bound together into small strips, the strips were coated with lacquer to protect the kozane from water. A series of strips of kozane were then laced together with silk or leather lace and formed into a complete chest armour dou or dō.

In the 1500s a new type of armor started to become popular due to the advent of fire arms, new fighting tactics and the need for additional protection. The kozane dou made from individual scales was replaced by iron plated dou and this new armor was referred to as Tosei-gusoku or modern armour. Various other components of armor protected the samurai's body. The helmet kabuto was an important part of the samurai's armor. Diamyo's usually each had their own rather distinct kabuto. Samurai armour changed and developed as the methods of samurai warfare changed over the centuries. The use of armour in Japan ended completely by the 1870s as the last samurai rebellion was crushed and Japan modernized its countries defenses and turned to a national conscription army which used uniforms.



Battle of Sekigahara – Weaponry

The weapons used in the Battle of Sekigahara differ slightly on the type of action that was being performed. The weapons ranged some small handheld weapons, to larger staffs and sickles that were meant for up close combat with your opponent. There was also some medium range throwing weapons which acted as a secondary offense if an enemy is too far away to hit them with your staff. The primary weapons used in combat were a long staff or now known as a lance which was used by soldiers on horseback. These were stationary weapons and were sharpened to take an enemy off of their horse with one passing blow.

Weapon List:

  1. Yari – In the 15th century, the yari (spear) also became a popular weapon. It displaced the naginata from the battlefield as personal bravery became less of a factor and battles became organized. It was simpler and more deadly than a katana. A charge, mounted or dismounted, was more effective when using a spear and it offered better than even odds against a samurai using a tachi, a katana adapted to mounted combat. In the Battle of Shizugatake where Shibata Katsuie was defeated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, then known as Hashiba Hideyoshi, the Seven Spearmen of Shizugatake played a crucial role in the victory. One of the biggest controversies surrounding the weapons of the samurai is whether samurai ever charged on horseback. Horses of that time were smaller yet durable but it was questionable how well they would perform carrying heavily armored samurai. A traditional belief held that samurai mainly fought on horseback acting as heavy cavalry and charged through hapless foot soldiers. It is currently believed that samurai mainly fought on foot and used horses for transportation and only occasionally charged on disarrayed and retreating enemies. The Battle of Nagashino was one of such battle where samurai supposedly charged on horseback.
  2. Yumi - a longbow, reflected in the art of kyūjutsu (lit. the skill of the bow) was a major weapon of the Japanese military. Its usage declined with the introduction of firearms during the Sengoku period, but the skill was still practiced at least for sport. The yumi, an asymmetric composite bow made from bamboo, wood, rattan and leather, was not as powerful as the Eurasian reflex composite bow, having an effective range of 50 meters (about 164 feet) or 100 meters (328 feet) if accuracy was not an issue. On foot, it was usually used behind a tedate, a large and mobile bamboo wall, but could also be used from horseback because of its asymmetric shape. The practice of shooting from horseback became a Shinto ceremony known as yabusame.
  3. Daisho - The daishō (literally "big-little") is a Japanese term referring to the traditional pair of swords worn by the samurai class in feudal Japan. A daishō is typically depicted as a katana and wakizashi mounted in matching koshirae but originally the daishō was the wearing of any long and short uchigatana together. The katana(long bladed sword)/wakizashi(mid-length sword) pairing is not the only daishō combination as generally any longer sword paired with a tantō (a small knife sized weapon) is considered to be a daishō. Daishō eventually came to mean two swords having a matched set of fittings. A daishō could also have matching blades made by the same swordsmith, but this was in fact uncommon and not necessary for two swords to be considered to be a daishō, as it would have been more expensive for a samurai. The wearing of daishō was limited to the samurai class, and became a symbol or badge of their rank. Daishō may have became popular around the end of the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573) as several early examples date from the late sixteenth century. An edict in 1629 defining the duties of a samurai required the wearing of a daishō when on official duty.
  4. Arquebus (teppo tai) – This was originally introduced by the Portuguese in the mid 1540's and represented one of the first handguns to Japan. The arquebusiers transformed the way battles were to occur. When a solider carrying an arquebus entered the battlefield they would be able to take down any opponent easily and from afar, though this was very dishonorable to most samurai. The tradition was to challange another warrior in one on one combat with full identities disclosed so they knew who won honorably and who died honorably.
  5. Tanegashima - a form of matchlock which was introduced to Japan in the 1540s through Portuguese trade, enabling warlords to raise effective armies from masses of peasants. The new weapons were highly controversial. Their ease of use and deadly effectiveness was perceived by many samurai as a dishonorable affront to tradition. Oda Nobunaga made deadly use of the tanegashima at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575, leading to the end of the Takeda clan. Tanegashima were produced on a large scale by Japanese gunsmiths. By the end of the 16th century, there were more firearms in Japan than in any European nation. Tanegashima, employed en masse, largely by ashigaru peasant foot troops, were in many ways the antithesis of samurai valor. With the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate and an end to civil war, production of tanegashima declined sharply with prohibitions on ownership. By the Tokugawa period most spear-based weapons had been phased out partly because they were suboptimal for the close-quarter combat common at the time; this combined with the aforementioned restrictions on firearms resulted in the daisho being the only weapons typically carried by samurai.

Ashigaru

Conscripted foot-soldiers of medieval Japan.

Daimyo

Regional ruler, similar to a duke.

Emperor

Spiritual ruler of Japan. He kept no armies.

Oda Nobunaga

The initiator of the unification of Japan under the rule of the shogun.

Samuari

The warrior class of Japan.

Shogun

Chief military commander of Japan.

Tokugawa Ieyasu

The founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan which ruled from 1600 until 1868.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi

A daimyo who unified the political factions of Japan after succeeding Oda Nobunaga.

Toyotomi Hideyori

The sun and successor of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Glossary

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