Samurai Costume

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Samurai CostumesThe samurai were the noble warrior class of Ancient Japan.  Today, while the Japanese no longer practice feudalism, the spirit of the samurai is still revered.  The samurai costume is a nod to that great image.

Originally, the word “samurai” meant “one who accompanies” or “one who waits upon”, but as the samurai class became more developed in Japan, the meaning changed to what it means today.  It was fitting, since these warriors would serve as guards for nobles and royal personages, and would go to war for their lords.  Depending on the time period one refers to, a samurai would have worn different armaments.

To begin with, samurai towards the middle and late feudal periods wore armor made of steel and bamboo, with a characteristic lobster-tail pattern.  This improved the defensive power of the armor, and was not just an aesthetic choice.  Costumes based on these suits of armor are rather more difficult to find, as they would cost much more than the normal fabric-centric costumes.

Another type of samurai costume makes use mostly of cloth.  This harks back to the earlier periods of feudal Japan, where “samurai” may have been the feudal lords’ personal advisers.  This also fits in with the meaning “one who accompanies” since these advisers would often be close at hand for ready consultation.  In style, they are a cross between the Japanese kimono and clothing worn by officers in China.

Additionally, men who trained as samurai but bear no alliance to any feudal lord were called “ronin”, or wandering men.  As per popular conception, the ronin wears no armor, both because he cannot afford it and because it slows him down.  A ronin’s robes would be dirtier and more ragged version of the basic wear of the time.

When we think of the samurai, one of the things that immediately comes to mind is their swords.  These swords are classified as either katanas or tachis, depending on their lengths and other factors.  Since samurais would never appear in public without at least their wakizashis, any samurai costume must include a sword, right?

Samurai were not just swordsmen.  In the earlier feudal periods, they were also archers – horseback archers, as a matter of fact.  The samurai’s longbow was designed differently because of the constraints when riding a horse.  They also used long spears, usually in formation. Either one makes for a good prop to enhance a costume.

Gear up and fight for glory!

Samurai CostumesClick Here To See The Full Range of Samurai Costumes

Available Samurai Costume Sizes

available sizesYou can get a samurai costume in adult size Large to X-Large or Plus.  These outfits are meant to hang quite loose on the body, especially around the legs and arms.  You might be hard-pressed to find smaller sizes.

Kids are not quite as fond of samurai as they are of ninjas, and as such there are fewer choices for samurai Halloween costumes for kids – and for adults.

Make sure to get the right footwear for your costume.  You can choose boots or sandals depending on the whether you are playing the role of samurai or ronin.  If you do choose sandals, try to look for straw sandals for best period accuracy.

Prop weapons are usually available in just one size.  Unless you need to please some sticklers for accuracy, this should not be a problem.  Please do be careful when playing with these – they may be blunted but can still pack an impact.

Samurai Background Information

Samurai InformationSamurai were an ancient warrior class in feudal Japan.  They ranked higher than commoners but below nobles and royalty.  Their primary tasks were to defend the feudal lord and to go to war when called upon.  They were both feared and respected.  Today, samurai traditions like martial arts and discipline continue to be upheld in ultra-modern Japan.  A samurai would usually own some parcel of land, its size dependent on his skill in many things.

They are often likened to the knights of Europe, who served similar roles.  Parallels can be drawn quite easily between the two in terms of social significance.  Samurai were also well-educated and were all artists of one sort or another.

There are no more samurai in the traditional sense, as there are no more feudal lords.  Bushido, or the way of the warrior, is no longer practiced in its entirety, but certain precepts like discipline and respect for authority are practiced in general today.

Samurai Movies & TV Shows

Samurai moviesSamurai have been a fixture in popular media in the recent years.  Akira Kurosawa’s films are prime examples of the genre, and have garnered both critical and fan acclaim.  Examples are “Seven Samurai”, “Yojimbo”, and “Hidden Fortress”.  George Lucas of Star Wars fame admits that “Hidden Fortress” was one of the inspirations for his masterpiece.  “Hidden Fortress” told the tale of two ordinary peasants who end up helping a general escort a princess away from danger.

Samurai are standard fixtures in the manga, anime, and historical dramas in Japan.  Outside of Japan, samurai are not as popularized in movies and print.  A notable exception is “The Last Samurai”, which is considered only semi-fictional, as there were indeed Caucasians who earned positions as samurai.

In gaming circles, the samurai is more common.  It is a common choice in many Asian-produced MMORPGs, of either good or evil alignment.  The popular RPG series, Final Fantasy, includes samurai as a character class in many of its installments.

Similar Costumes

It is not very easy to pull off the perfect samurai costume, so here are some alternatives that may prove less challenging (especially if you are on a budget or lacking time).

Ninjas, often portrayed as the polar opposites of samurais, are a reasonable choice.  Samurais and ninjas came from the same time period and were often at odds with one another, so they come hand-in-hand in our perceptions.  Ninja costumes are actually easier to source because they are more popular – most likely because of the mythical powers they were purported to possess.

Instead of a samurai from Japan, why not go as a kung-fu master or warrior-monk from China?  How about the Hwarang, a warrior class from ancient Korea?  Truly, to find alternatives for something you need not look much further than the immediate surroundings. Make sure that you identify what you are wearing, or risk embarrassing yourself by calling yourself the wrong thing.

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