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Specialists in Fine Japanese Arms and Armour

Kiwame-fuda Kuroda Gusoku

Nerigawa Hishi-nui Ni-Mai-Dō Gusoku

The Iwai armour makers were a renowned group of craftsmen in Japan, known for producing high-quality samurai armour during the feudal period. The Iwai family and their workshop were particularly famous for their skill in crafting suits of armour (yoroi), helmets (kabuto), and other protective gear for samurai warriors.

The Iwai armour makers were active during the Edo period (17th to 19th centuries) and were making and assembling armour during a time when the samurai class was flourishing under the Tokugawa shogunate. They were located in Edo, which is now Tokyo, and their work was highly sought after by samurai and daimyō (feudal lords) across Japan.

The Iwai family’s armour was renowned for its quality, intricate designs, and attention to detail. Samurai who wore armour crafted by the Iwai family could be confident in its protective capabilities and the craftsmanship that went into its creation.

It’s important to note that several generations of armour makers from the Iwai family were involved in this craft, and they passed down their knowledge and techniques through the generations. Their work is considered a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of Japanese armour-making during the Edo period.

Today, some examples of armour crafted by the Iwai family can be found in museums and private collections, serving as a valuable reminder of the rich history of samurai culture and craftsmanship in Japan. The showcased armour is a prime illustration of this, skillfully crafted by artisans of Jo-Jo status, a term denoting mastery and excellence during the early Edo period. 

This style of yoroi-kata, or armour template, had a distinct purpose tailored for the Kuroda daimyo lords, with the craftsman producing multiple variations for various family members. It was customary for a lord to possess multiple sets of armour, each placed at family estates at different locations throughout Japan. Currently, the Fukuoka City Museum is home to an extensive collection of the Kuroda clan’s armours. Among these, is a complete set that bears a remarkable 98% resemblance to the showcased example. This particular armour once belonged to a young lord called Kuroda Takashi who tragically passed away from an illness at a tender age. Notably, his mother hailed from the Ikeda family. The presence of the Ikeda family’s ‘suemon’ (family crest) on both the armour and its storage box strongly indicates that this variant was originally owned and preserved at the estate in Edo, where the Ikeda branch of the family resided.