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Japanese Military Armor


Most of the Japanese military objects William and Henry Walters collected were made during the Edo (1615-1867) and Meiji (1868-1912) periods. During these years, Japan was largely at peace. There was still a military class (the samurai), but they rarely engaged in active battle. Arms and armor became an outward symbol of status among the military class. Once Westerners were able to freely enter Japan after 1854, swords and sword fittings became popular items to collect. Some of the fittings in the Walters collection were made specifically for sale to Westerners and were never mounted on swords.

One of the most popular sword fittings among collectors was the “tsuba” or sword guard. Tsubas are placed at the end of the sword handle, or “tsuka,” to protect the bearer’s hand from being cut. Adjacent to the tsuba is a small decorated ring called the “fuchi.” This surrounds the opening on the handle and is usually paired with a “kashira” that covers the pommel end of the handle. On either side of the handle were “menuki.” These were originally developed because they helped the bearer maintain his grip on the handle, but later became strictly decorative adornments. The scabbard covering the blade is called the “saya.” In addition to shielding the sword, it often has openings along the outside to hold a utility knife and a hairpin, chopsticks or a tool designed to spur a horse. The decorated handle of the utility knife is called the “kozuka.” The other items are called “kogai,” warikogai” and “umabari.” In some cases all of these fittings were made as a set by one artist, but more frequently three or four different artists would make the pieces used in one mounting.


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Breastplate
Breastplate Title
early 17th century (Momoyama; Edo) Period
51.595 Accession
creature, tsuba, dragon Tags
Breastplate (Dō)
Breastplate (Dō) Title
1721 (Edo) Period
51.598 Accession
samurai Tags
Dagger (Tanto) with Silver Saya with Lotus Pond Life, Flower Lotus Decoration
Dagger (Tanto) with Silver Saya with Lotus Pond Life, Flower Lotus Decoration Title
n.d. Period
51.1246 Accession
Dagger in Scabbard with Butterflies and Peonies
Dagger in Scabbard with Butterflies and Peonies Title
ca. 1320 (Kamakura) Period
51.1237 Accession
Dagger in the Form of Rotting Wood
Dagger in the Form of Rotting Wood Title
18th century (Momoyama) Period
51.1181 Accession
Dagger with Wisteria and Puppies
Dagger with Wisteria and Puppies Title
Blade: ca. 1590; Scabbard: 19th century (Momoyama) Period
51.1213 Accession
Fuchi Remounted at a Box with Legendary Figures
Fuchi Remounted at a Box with Legendary Figures Title
Original: 18th century (?); Mounted: late 19th-early 20th century (Edo-Meiji) Period
57.1330A Accession
Fuchi with a Chinese Boy
Fuchi with a Chinese Boy Title
1736-1787 (Edo) Period
51.950 Accession
Fuchi with a Chinese Immortal on a Crane
Fuchi with a Chinese Immortal on a Crane Title
18th century (Edo) Period
51.952 Accession
Fuchi with a Chinese Man on a Horse and a Peasant
Fuchi with a Chinese Man on a Horse and a Peasant Title
1736-1787 (Edo) Period
51.974 Accession
Fuchi with a Lion near a Waterfall
Fuchi with a Lion near a Waterfall Title
ca. 1771-1825 (Edo) Period
51.1100 Accession
Fuchi with a Man Carrying a Gourd
Fuchi with a Man Carrying a Gourd Title
ca. 1750-1775 (Edo) Period
51.972 Accession
Fuchi with a Man Chasing Runaway Horse
Fuchi with a Man Chasing Runaway Horse Title
1st half 19th century (Edo) Period
51.1018 Accession
Fuchi with a Man Fishing
Fuchi with a Man Fishing Title
18th century (?) (Edo) Period
51.994 Accession
Fuchi with a Man Pouring Water or Sake into a Bottle
Fuchi with a Man Pouring Water or Sake into a Bottle Title
1736-1787 (Edo) Period
51.942 Accession
Fuchi with Ants
Fuchi with Ants Title
n.d. Period
51.1050 Accession
egg Tags
Fuchi with Armor
Fuchi with Armor Title
18th-19th century (Edo) Period
51.1120 Accession
Fuchi with Armor
Fuchi with Armor Title
2nd half 19th century (Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1238.3A Accession
Fuchi with Arrowroot and Butterfly
Fuchi with Arrowroot and Butterfly Title
1848-1918 (late Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1191.3a Accession
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers Title
18th-19th century (Edo) Period
51.1217.3A Accession
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers Title
ca. 1800-1850 (late Edo) Period
51.1064 Accession
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers Title
1839-1896 (Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1193.2a Accession
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers Title
late19th-early 20th century (Meiji) Period
51.1176.2A Accession
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers Title
19th century (Edo) Period
51.1062 Accession
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers
Fuchi with Autumn Flowers Title
ca. 1866 (Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1258.3A Accession
Fuchi with Bamboo
Fuchi with Bamboo Title
18th century (Edo) Period
51.1249.3A Accession
Fuchi with Bamboo
Fuchi with Bamboo Title
18th-19th century (Edo) Period
51.1276.2A Accession
Fuchi with Bamboo
Fuchi with Bamboo Title
19th century Period
51.1263.3A Accession
Fuchi with Bamboo and Plums
Fuchi with Bamboo and Plums Title
early-mid 19th century (Edo) Period
51.1243.3A Accession
Fuchi with Basket of Peaches on a Table
Fuchi with Basket of Peaches on a Table Title
1773-1829 (Edo) Period
51.1034 Accession
Fuchi with Benkei and Yoshitsune Fighting
Fuchi with Benkei and Yoshitsune Fighting Title
late 17th-early 18th century (Edo) Period
51.1052 Accession
Fuchi with Bird in Flight
Fuchi with Bird in Flight Title
1854-1925 (Meiji-Taisho) Period
51.1291.2a Accession
Fuchi with Bridge and Maple Leaves
Fuchi with Bridge and Maple Leaves Title
n.d. Period
51.984 Accession
Fuchi with Bush Clover
Fuchi with Bush Clover Title
mid 19th century (Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1010 Accession
Fuchi with Bush Clover
Fuchi with Bush Clover Title
mid 19th century (late Edo) Period
51.1270.2A Accession
Fuchi with Carp and Water Milfoil
Fuchi with Carp and Water Milfoil Title
1st half 19th century (late Edo) Period
51.901 Accession
Fuchi with Cat Scratch Engraving
Fuchi with Cat Scratch Engraving Title
19th century (?) (Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1170.2A Accession
Fuchi with Cherry Blossoms
Fuchi with Cherry Blossoms Title
late 18th-early 19th century (late Edo) Period
51.1266.3A Accession
Fuchi with Cherry Blossoms
Fuchi with Cherry Blossoms Title
ca. 1850 (late Edo) Period
51.1295.3A Accession
Fuchi with Cherry Blossoms and Petals
Fuchi with Cherry Blossoms and Petals Title
19th century (Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1190.2A Accession
Fuchi with Cherry Blossoms Floating on Waves
Fuchi with Cherry Blossoms Floating on Waves Title
mid 19th century (Edo-Meiji) Period
51.907 Accession
Fuchi with Cherry Blossoms in Clouds
Fuchi with Cherry Blossoms in Clouds Title
1848-1898 (late Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1102 Accession
Fuchi with Cherry Tree in Bloom
Fuchi with Cherry Tree in Bloom Title
2nd half 19th century (late Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1198.2A Accession
Fuchi with Chickens and Autumn Flowers
Fuchi with Chickens and Autumn Flowers Title
19th century (late Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1200.2A Accession
creature Tags
Fuchi with Chinese Bell Flowers
Fuchi with Chinese Bell Flowers Title
1804-1886 (late Edo-Meiji) Period
51.1163.2A Accession
Fuchi with Chinese Bell Flowers
Fuchi with Chinese Bell Flowers Title
1st half 19th century (?) (late Edo) Period
51.1282.3a Accession
Fuchi with Chinese Immortal Tekkai
Fuchi with Chinese Immortal Tekkai Title
n.d. Period
51.1122 Accession
Fuchi with Chinese Lantern Plants
Fuchi with Chinese Lantern Plants Title
19th century (Edo) Period
51.1265.3A Accession
Fuchi with Chinese Warrior
Fuchi with Chinese Warrior Title
mid 18th century (Edo) Period
51.1032 Accession
Fuchi with Chinese-style Lion and Peony
Fuchi with Chinese-style Lion and Peony Title
ca. 1800 (Edo) Period
51.1439 Accession
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