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This just popped up on a local FB group.
Bear in mind that Japanese stuff is almost unheard of to find in SA, and knowing that I am clueless when it comes to katchu, I thought I would ask the collectors here if there is anything at all that can be told from the pics provided?
I assume modern for various reasons, but would be great to have some comments from the experts. I plan on making contact tomorrow for any needed pics or info. Owner knows little about it, no provenance either.

Here is the description:



Old Japanese Samurai helmet (Kabuto) with Samurai face mask (Menpo) and crescent moon crest (Maedate). I don’t know its age, I’m told Meiji to Showa period (late 1800s to 1989). This is a genuine Japanese hand-made Samurai helmet.

The helmet is constructed from 18 iron plates making up the bowl, and 5 iron plates joined with lacing making up the neck guard. There is a crown vent made from metal, looks like brass. There is a frontal crest (maedate) shaped to a crescent moon, made of brass. The front “ears” are made also of iron and have decorative brass borders covered with fabric and brass rivets.

The Face mask Menpo is made from iron with a horse hair moustache, it has a laced iron neck guard with matches the lacing as used on the helmet, although less faded than the helmet’s lacing.

This is a full size helmet and mask, and is actually wearable if your inclined… It has a fabric liner with a rope fastener to tie it in place as it is quite heavy being made of iron/steel. This is a really beautifull Samurai helmet, I can’t date it, but is not a modern copy as there is no fibreglass or plastic construction anywhere, and is made from individual metal plates.

It has some damage, scratches, fading, dirt and wear as it’s old, but I’ve taken a lot of pics. I’m not an expert in these items, so if you need to see any specific details or info I will take additional photos. The stand is NOT included.


Pics provided for now....

Thanks in advance.









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Thanks very much Luc. I am going to pass any info on to the seller, who says he has 2 other helmets to show me.
So this is post 1970 and made for display? Any info on the company and/or pointers that I can tell them indicate this?
Seller is very grateful for any info, as there is little info to be found in SA, and as you know few collectors who are far away from me.

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Brian, I have a vintage flyer somewhere from this firm, I will post it when I find it.

They started working for the movie-companies in Japan.  The interest for the samurai increased in the seventies and eighties, more and more people wanted a kind of 'relic' from this culture.

Some of those movie prop katchushi were really good, and became famous.,

One of them, Ototsugu,  was even listed in Sasama's Shin Katchushi Meikan.

His work is sold for millions of Yen nowadays. 

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Used reproduction like this sell on Yahoo Auctions for $800 complete armour.


Akira Kurosawa Films 

RAN (June, 1985)
KAGEMUSHA (April, 1980)

Other Films
1992 Oda Nobunaga 
1995 Heike Monogatari 

TV - NHK Taiga Dramas 
1979 Kusa Moyuru - Minamoto Yoritomo
1987 Dokuganryu Masamune
1988 Takeda Shingen
1991 Taiheiki - Ashikaga Takauji
1992 Nobunaga - King of Zipangu
1993 Hono-Tatsu - Fujiwara family
1995 Tokugawa Yoshimune
1996 Hideyoshi
1997 Mouri Motonari
1999 Genryoku Ryoran - Oishi Kuranosuke
2000 AOI Tokugawa 3 generations
2002 Maeda Toshiie
2005 Minamoto Yoshitsune
2006 Koumyo Ga Tsuji
2007 Furin Kazan
2008 Atsuhime
2009 Tenchijin - Naoe Kanetsugu

Overseas Movie
2004 Japan Memoirs of a Secret Empire
2009 Old Dogs
2010 Inception 

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So this is post 1970 and made for display? Any info on the company and/or pointers that I can tell them indicate this?


Funny how none of the people with so much knowledge on this subject who have told you this armor is modern has taken the time to answer your question and point out the signs that prove this modern and not antique....humm.
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There are around five factories that produce reproduction armour these days. Most of the parts are formed in China. Some factories have their armour assembled in China, others export the parts and assemble them in Japan. I only know this because I work closely with two factories on changing and improving their range to be more authentic.

Most moulds and models have not changed much from the 70's. The better versions are earlier reproductions from the 40's. Spotting these has been covered on many threads and forums should one wish to investigate further.

If you want a good pointer for the Kabuto featured above it would be the shikoro. The fukurin is folded brass that's anchored with a rivet. Reall armours would have the edge folded in an l shape and then the ridge/fukurin would be sculpted in kokuso urushi.

Mask, the odayori-ore-kugi posts are just bent wire.

Odoshi is cotton, not silk, the odoshi-no-ana are not plugged. The width of the odoshi is very wide.

There is no urushi on either, no ground layers with cracking etc.

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  • 1 month later...

Eric, you do yourself no favours by stating it that way.

All you had to do was request a few pointers in a polite way, pointing out the request. Same thing achieved, less antagonism.

Brian thanks for your concern but you asked a specific question and there is a proper way to answer it. I am not sure why anyone would be antagonized. You simply take an image of the item in question if available and use some arrows and the proper terms to visually show why the item is modern and not antique. this is a little more work but it is much more helpful to people who are not as informed on this subject..."a picture is worth a thousand words". I am posting an image of the menpo you asked about as an example.




The red arrows point to the odayori-ore-kugi (attachment posts), these posts help to keep the top heavy helmet from moving, the helmet cord (shinobi-no-o) would be wrapped around the odayori-ore-kugi and and tied off under the chin.


On antique men-yoroi / men-gu (facial armor) the odayori-ore-kugi were never made with round wire such as in your example and the bend was never curved. Below is an antique example, you can clearly see the difference between the odayori-ore-kugi.


Now if someone would do the same thing with the helmet.......



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