A kabuto is a helmet used with traditional Japanese armour as worn by samurai. It features a strong bowl, the "hachi", which protects the crown of the head, a suspended series of articulated plates (the "shikoro") to protect the neck, and often a crest of the clan (mon).
A Kabuto was usually constructed from 3 to over a hundred metal plates, riveted together. The plates are usually arranged vertically, and radiate from an opening in the top called the "tehen". The original purpose of the tehen was for the warrior to pass his top knot through. Although this usage was largely abandoned after the kamakura-muromachi period, the tehen remained as a feature of most helmets, and was decorated with a "tehen kanamono", or ring of intricately worked soft metal bands surrounding the opening of the tehen. The rivets that secure the metal plates of the kabuto to each other could be raised, creating a form known as "hoshi-bachi," or hammered flat, leaving only the flanges of the plates protruding, a form known as "suji-bachi." Some of the finer helmets were signed by smiths, usually from one of several several families.
One alternate of the Kabuto is the "Kawari Kabuto," or "strange helmet." During the Momoyama period of intense civil warfare, the production of helmets was simplified to a 3 or four plate design that lacked many of the ornamental features of earlier helmets. To offset the plain, utilitarian form of the new helmet, and to provide visibility and presence on the battlefield, armorers began to build fantastic shapes on top of the simple helmets in "harikake," or lacquered paper over a wooden armature. These shapes mimicked forms from Japanese culture and mythology, including fish, cow horns, the head of the god of longevity, bolts of silk, head scarved, ichi-no-tani canyon, and ace heads, among many others. Some forms were realistically rendered, while others took on a very futuristic, modernist feel. A definitive show of Kawari Kabuto was mounted by the Japan Society in 1985. The catalog, entitled "Spectacular Helmets of Japan".Most Kabuto incorporate a suspended neck guard called a "shikoro". This is usually composed of semi-circular lacquered metal or oxhide lames, attached and articulated by silk or leather lacing. This system of lames is the standard technology of defense employed, along with mail, for the body protection in Japanese Armor.
Kabuto are often adorned with "Maedate" (Front Crests,) "Wakidate" (Side Crests) or "Ushirodate" (Rear Crests.) For a samurai it's usually a family or clan emblem.
Upon the return of general peace under the Tokogawa Shogunate in the Edo Period, Armor became more elaborate and ceremonial. Many very luxurious armors were produced during this period, as well as a great number of simpler armors for lower ranking Samurai and foot soldiers. Fine armor continued to be produced up to the end of the Edo period in 1867, and slightly beyond. Later armors often emulated the garb of the romanticized Kamakura-Muromachi warriors.
Kabuto were a prominent and important part of the equipment of the samurai. The samurai believed to take off your kabuto was to surrender. The samurai kept their kabuto in their house except for in battles and ceremonies.
A menpō (or menbō) is a face mask on the kabuto, Menpō take many forms. They may be made from leather or metal and can have a lacquered finish. The mask can also include a variety of facial details such as moustaches, fierce teeth and color. The menpō has it's origin's from the heian period of japanese history.
Yodare Kake Edit
A yodare kake (throat protector) was sometime worn in the Edo period of japan's history. The yodare kake was composes of weilded plates of metal similar to that of the kabuto's plates'.
Jingasa (military hat) were worn by samurai and ashigaru. It's primary usage was in the late Edo period (1700 - 1800s).As the Edo period was a period of peace, Kabuto were used less and Jingasa became more popular. The function of the Jingasa was still the same as for Kabuto, but with less accent on protection against arrow or sword, but from rain or sunshine, and to give an accent on the other aspects of "Samurai's daily life in times of peace" like: Police duty, Hunting, Riding etc. next to showing the Samurai's social status: A Daimyo was more likely to still wear armor and kabuto on official occasions, but most of the time a Jingasa would do (though this might be a "golden jingasa". Use of Jingasa however was not restricted to samurai, unlike the kabuto.
Yoroi, meaning "armor", varied from samurai to samurai in appearance, shape, and materials.
The The term o-yoroi meant "great armor", and was worn by either rich or high ranking samurai, Ō-Yoroi first started to appear in the 10th century during the middle and late Heian period, and came into widespread use in the Genpei War around the 12th centuries when the call for armor was at its peak. Significant aspects of this armor were designed for mounted archers, so the armor fell out of favor in the fifteenth century when samurai shifted to mostly infantry tactics.
The Ō-Yoroi combines plate and lamellar elements. One specific advance over earlier armors is that the lamellae of o-yoroi are first laced together and then covered with lacquer, which enhances resistance to corrosion. The dō (cuirass) consists of two parts. One (the waidate) is a separate defense for the right side and the other part covers the rest of the wearer's trunk. The upper part of the waidate is solid iron plate covered with leather. The lower part is laminated. When dressing for battle, the waidate is put on before the rest of the cuirass and fastened with cords that ties around the body. The rest of the cuirass is also iron plate covered with leather on top with laminated segments below. Various supplementary pieces includes rectangular lamellae shoulder guards (ō-sode) and a fabric and plate sleeve (kote) for the left arm. Greaves (suneate) made from lacquered iron protects the shins and joins over fabric leggings (habaki). Specialized archery gloves are made from deerskin and boots were made of bearskin or sealskin.
The prefered choice of metal for the samurai was either steel or iron.