The samurai were well known throughout Japan and the world for their fighting skills. Despite the fact that they were most commonly remembered for their swords and skills, their armor was also a very impressive sight.
The first dedicated attempt at armor for these highly trained warriors was plate armor in the 5th and 6th centuries. This armor was short lived and popular culture recognizes the armor as wearing a different type of armor.
The lamellar armor is what the samurai are most known for. This armor is made by binding metal scales together to create a plate. These plates were then covered with lacquer so that they would be able to withstand water. The plates were bound together with leather in a way that each plate slightly overlapped the other. This reduced the ability of an enemy to find a gap between the armor.
There are two main type of lamellar armor. The Yoroi armor was worn by the samurai who were honorable enough to be mounted. This type of armor featured a metal helmet and very striking shoulder guards. This armor was considered to be relatively heavy since the samurai had the aid of the horse.
The second type of armor was Do-Maru. This was the armor that was worn by the samurai who fought on foot. This armor was much lighter than the Yoroi armor because the samurai had to be able to walk and fight efficiently in the armor. This type of armor was also more closely fitted as the fighters on the ground were more vulnerable.
Eventually the Do-Maru armor became the most popular because hand to hand combat became more prevalent. The helmet of this armor was called the kabuto and they were often riveted together in distinctive patterns. The more important the samurai the more intricate the helmet and the more likely that it would be decorated with clan symbols. Some of these helmets are so intricate that today they are considered to be works of art.
To get dressed the samurai would first don an undergarment. This would then be covered by a kimono and a pad would be placed on the head to make wearing the heavy helmet more bearable. The samurai would then put on the Do which was the main torso armor and it hangs from the shoulders. On top of the Do would be Tsurubashiri which was a leather covering that went over the Do. This would often have colorful and intricate designs. Then the Sendan-no-ita, kyubi-no-ita would be placed over the shoulders. These metal plates hang down from the shoulders and protect the leather strands which bind the Do together. Finally there would be the Kote which was an armored sleeve placed on the left arm. The right arm was left uncovered so that the samurai would be able to fire a bow. This practice continued even after the samurai no longer practiced archery.