The Satsuma Rebellion of samurai against the Meiji Government in 1877 saw traditional Japanese armour worn in battle for the last time. Today, Japanese armour is a symbol of ancient military virtue and an object of luxurious beauty as it was during the Edo period (1604-1868). This is the period to which most Japanese armour – that exists outside shrine, temple, museum, and great clan collections – dates, including the present magnificent Yoshitsune-Gote Do-Maru armour.
During the Edo period there were around 260 daimyo (lords) each occupying a domain with a castle and manor and keeping a secondary manor in the capital city, Edo (present-day Tokyo). Each daimyo was made to spend either six months or a year in his Edo mansion and to leave his wife and heir there when he returned each year to his home domain. Armour was worn at certain stages of the journey but it was essentially symbolic since there was no possibility of a daimyo procession ever attacking Edo.
First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The Dawn National Weekend Advertiser on November 4, 2012.