This is the extraordinary story of Marutake Sangyo, the company that brings ancient Japan into the present with its authentic samurai armor replicas.
Marutake Sangyo: Manufacturer of Authentic Samurai Armor
Marutake Sangyo, based in Kagoshima, Kyushu Prefecture, is one of Japan’s foremost producers of o-yoroi, or “Great Armor”, bringing the ways of ancient Japanese warriors into the present with its authentic samurai armor replicas. Whether creating armor for prestigious events in castle towns from Nagoya to Osaka, outfitting a group of soldiers for the latest samurai period drama, or even making a set especially for Queen Elizabeth II, Marutake Sangyo’s unfailing dedication to craftsmanship and peerless attention to historical detail have continued for some 60 years.
Marutake Sangyo History: From Fishing Pole Salesman to Samurai Armor Manufacturer
Making the seemingly simple Japanese wazao, or bamboo fishing pole, requires a great deal of craftsmanship and appreciation for tradition. Perhaps that is why the founder of Marutake Sangyo, once a travelling fishing pole salesman, became so inspired upon meeting an armor technician during one of his journeys that he decided then to become a samurai armor manufacturer. Since the days of that fateful decision, Marutake Sangyo’s dedication to research, detail, authenticity and quality of its samurai armor has made it a fixture in government, diplomacy, public life and even popular culture.
Esteemed Client List & Notable Achievements
Government and Diplomacy
- The Japanese government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has ordered Yoroi armor as diplomatic gifts for counterparts in foreign countries.
- 1976 – Marutake Sangyo donated armor to Georgia, part of the Southern United States, to commemorate its decade-long relationship with Kagoshima.
- 1979 – The historic creation of armor for the Queen of England by Marutake Sangyo.
- 1997 – Marutake Sangyo was designated as a Traditional Craftwork of Kagoshima Prefecture by the local government – quite an achievement for a company that started from such humble roots.
Museums and Castles
Marutake Sangyo have also made great contributions in the public sphere, creating replicas for prefectural museums and castle town events.
In addition to donating armor to Nagoya Castle, Marutake Sangyo created a special replica of the armor of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, renowned as the second “great unifier” of Japan, displayed at Osaka Castle specially for its 400th anniversary in 1984.
Marutake Sangyo’s repertoire of armor design spans across all eras, meaning that fans of Japanese period dramas or movies set during the warring states or Edo eras have likely already seen warriors wearing sets of samurai armor.
- Marutake Sangyo is a supplier of samurai armor to NHK, the public service TV broadcaster of Japan, for various period dramas.
- 1985 – Marutake Sangyo made 1,600 suits of armor for Akira Kurosawa’s film, “Ran”.
Reasons for Marutake Sangyo’s prestige in producing samurai armor
- Dedication to Authenticity
Accuracy is tirelessly pursued by Marutake Sangyo through researching an extensive range of literature on samurai armor and history to ensure fidelity to designs, materials and even the manufacturing process. The attention to detail extends to the armor’s enclosing case, called the hitsu, used to store the Yoroi.
Just like the samurai who kept to a strict code of honor, the craftspeople at Marutake Sangyo also follow an ethos of perfection and authenticity true to the samurai tradition. The staff consists of fifty dedicated craftspeople who all receive thorough training in order to become proficient in performing various parts of the production process by hand, from weaving chainmail, to hand-splicing iron plates for helmets, lacing lamellar boards of the dou, or torso armor.
- Living The Samurai Spirit
The company is currently based in Kyushu, a part of Japan where the samurai spirit still runs deep. In fact, samurai armor was actually last used in Kyushu prefecture during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. In the long period of peace that followed the unification of Japan in the Edo era, samurai used plate and lamellar armor as status symbols rather than for battle, hence making them lighter and more portable.
Today, armor made by Marutake Sangyo is either bought or loaned for purposes of wearing or for display, be it public or private. Their armor is also used for traditional festivals, such as the popular Jidai-matsuri that takes place in Kyoto Prefecture every October 22, one of the biggest events in Kyoto that involves a major parade of participants wearing traditional clothes and armor of the premodern days.
- Respecting Both Past and Present
Of course, being a major samurai armor manufacturer means more than recreating the past; the company keeps up with the times, meeting demands for modern armor such as for Loto, an anime character in the popular series Dragon Quest. It also makes wearable armor for adults and children.
Be it modern or traditional, all products go through the same process of thorough research and authentic production, therefore exuding a beauty and refinement that only handmade samurai armor can. The process may take from one month to one year, depending on the design, budget and level of customization required—each criteria determined by the client. Most armor is made to fit standard Japanese adults up to 180cm tall and a 100cm chest, although sizes can be custom tailored for an additional price.
- Creating a Labor of Love
Each armor is a labor of love for all concerned, as each and every craftsperson is proficient in creating a certain armor part or carrying out a specific task, such as making the helmet, coloring, adding detailed finish, or painstakingly constructing a chainmail jacket. The sheer number of tools, coupled with the sizes of hammers and tinplate scissors each varying according to the task, is a mindboggling testament to the effort and skill involved in creating armor.
These gorgeous samurai armor replicas represent the culmination of all the finest techniques Marutake Sangyo has to offer, and the price is reflective of the authenticity, quality and handmade honesty that it embodies. With this armor, one can feel closer to the samurai spirit of Japan.
Individuals or companies considering the purchase or rental of a premium set of gorgeous samurai armor either for wear or display can do no better than Marutake Sangyo. Their consistent and reliable service, assurance of authenticity, and unending dedication to quality are why A-Janaika chose Marutake Sangyo as its trusted and exclusive samurai armor manufacturer and supplier.
Come one step closer to an authentic peace of the past today, and order your own traditional samurai armor today.