Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

In Japanese, they're called "kawari kabuto" (変わり兜), which is often translated as "unusual helmets." They're some of the most interesting head armor you'll ever see.

Today, I got out my sons' miniature samurai armor (鎧 or yoroi) and helmet (兜 or kabuto) to display for Children's Day, which is on May 5. The armor measures about two and a half feet high—maybe slightly less.

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

You wear little white gloves while setting up the armor and use a feather duster to keep the set clean. The helmet's design is modeled after stag beetles. It's hardly unusual.

The unusual helmets started in the 16th century and were used to help high-ranking officials stand out in the fray. While they looked unusual, the helmets were battle-ready. The customization could help these samurai strike an intimidating figure in a fight. The helmets might look heavy, but the elaborate decorations added to the helmet were light, as not to make them too cumbersome.

Here are some of the most interesting ones from over the years:

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Imaga]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Yoshidenki]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Naver]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Rakuchu]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Akiou]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Imaga]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Cobalt]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Tokyo Fuji Art Museum]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Naver]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Akiou]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Imaga]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Naver]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Sabancenter]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: KJ Club]

Japan's Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

[Photo: Wiki]

Top photo: Wiki

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