Japanese armour in Kensington

Usagi Juku armourI expect your idea of armour is the kind of solid, clanking metal suit you might find nowadays standing in the hall at a stately home. Effective, but heavy and unwieldy. Or maybe lighter, more flexible chain mail – a great step forward. But in Japan they went further. To enable samurai to ride, shoot arrows and use a sword, they developed a lightweight armour in which metal or leather scales were bound together with string. Doesn’t sound too effective? You’d be surprised. Continue reading

England meets Japan – four hundred years ago

Tokugawa IeyasuOn 18th April 1611 the British East India Company ship, the Clove, captained by John Saris, set sail from England headed for Japan. It arrived at Hirado near Nagasaki on 11th June 1613, the first British ship ever to reach Japan.

Hang on, I hear you say. What about William Adams? Wasn’t he the first? Continue reading