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Samurai: Arms, Armor, Costume
List Price: $19.99
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Manufacturer: Chartwell Books
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 2.5/5Average rating of 2.5/5Average rating of 2.5/5Average rating of 2.5/5Average rating of 2.5/5

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Binding: Hardcover
Dewey Decimal Number: 355.0952
EAN: 9780785822080
ISBN: 0785822089
Label: Chartwell Books
Manufacturer: Chartwell Books
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 208
Publication Date: 2007-03-30
Publisher: Chartwell Books
Studio: Chartwell Books

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Editorial Reviews:



Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Good Guide
Comment: This book is an excellent guide to better understanding the various clothes, armor, as well as dress practices of the Samurai from the late Hein period throught the Edo. What it is however is not a guide on the Samurai's way of life. It is purely a guide to his dress for both war and peace. It is meant to be a guide for film directors, or documentory creators. The book makes this perfectly clear in the introduction but does give some background history for the reader. This work is not meant for someone to learn about every aspect of the Samurai but again rather his clothing and armor attire. The photographs are vividly rich and provide a close look at everything mentioned. As a historian in the process working the long road for the PhD, it is important for me to study all aspects and cultures and not just famous people and events but dress attire and every other aspect. If one is seeking to learn about the Samurai and his practices, their are some excellent Osprey titles written by Stephen Turnbul that will be a major asset. However, for someone who is wishing to better understand the Samurai's armor and dress and the termonolagy of each piece of armor, this is a perfect guide. But remember, this is not a guide to culture or religous practice.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5
Summary: Not a good reference book on the subject, unfortunately
Comment: Just a brief note of my own to agree with one reviewer in mentioning that one is disappointed with the content matter of this book which begs to be edited properly and could be a bit more descriptive in regards to Japanese armor in general. There is a market for a well-put together book treating this subject as the number of collectors of "samurai art" grows every year, not just armor, but parts of armor such as masks, cuirasses, helmets, and we could use more information re. the different schools of armorers, methods used in making armor, terminology, etc. Maybe someday we shall see such a book in the English language (because in Japanese there are many).

Customer Rating: Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5Average rating of 1/5
Summary: Not the Must-Have I was led to believe.
Comment: Well. It's big and red and shiny and has lots of very pretty photographs of live human beings posing in armor and costumes. It has a gushy description on the inside of the dust jacket about how historically authentic everything is inside!!!!!

It also has a preface by its author in which he mentions "the curator of a private museum in Kyoto." He finally rambles around to mentioning the "Japanese costume museum in Kyoto." He never, ever thanks or acknowledges Izutsu-san by name either. Nor does he identify any of the collections or reproduction sources of any of the arms or armaments.

Dr. Kure is a doctor of medicine. He got interested in researching samurai militaria while painting models for gaming. This led him to re-enacting. Great, as a hobbyist myself, I applaud that. It's just that if you're going to embark on "an obsessive quest for accuracy," how about telling us where you found this stuff so we can come along for the ride?

Not a single footnote. (Am I weird for reading footnotes?)

Not a single corroborating image from period artwork.

No bibliography whatsoever.

I am willing to cut some slack on some truly clunky prose descriptions of outfits as Dr. Kure is not writing in his first language. However, there's an awful lot of inconsistent spellings of phonetically rendered Japanese words. Utiki becomes uchigi and uchiki and wanders back again, for example. Clearly, while Dr. Kure was busy copying information off costume diagrams from the KCM, he wasn't actually reading them. Nor was the lady he credits for "correcting my poor English." This is sloppiness, plain and simple, and it's EXACTLY the sort of thing that's going to confuse a novice costumer or armorer and hinder their obsessive quest for accuracy.

Dr. Kure could have concentrated specifically on armor and male dress, but no, he includes several women's outfits - and confusion runs rampant. "This samurai lady is wearing a blue uchiki coat on top of a violet hitoe. In being fastened on her upper chest, the obi belt differs from that of later periods." Click here for a similar outfit from the Kyoto Costume Museum.) WTF does this mean????? Well, yes, she's wearing a kake-obi. Now look at the fold in her outermost robe at about the tops of her thighs. What do you suppose is holding up the hems of her layered hitoe and uchigi so she can walk in them? I'll give you a hint. Two syllables, starts with "O." Why the kake-obi? To keep all that excess overlap lying neatly while she's out and about because her waist obi is under two or more layers keeping her hems out of the mud. Kake-obi make even MORE sense when one is using a kosode as a veil as shown here. I admit that women's pre-Edo period clothing is my area of focus, but if similar things are going on with the armor and militaria, this book is a minefield.

It's not completely useless. The pictures do show a degree of detail that the ones at the Kyoto Costume Museum website do not. But even the translated "explanation" windows at KCM are better than the muddle that is Dr. Kure's text.

Very disappointing.




Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Excellent
Comment: As a self-taught artist, I'm always looking for more visual reference material, and when I went shopping for some good books on armor, this one immediately caught my eye. I wasn't disappointed in the least. Samurai: Arms, Armor, Costume is a great visual reference book for anyone looking to learn about how armor and feudal Japanese costume was worn.

Within this book, you'll find many sections on different sorts of armor (starting with the earliest sets and moving forward) and daily costume for both men and women. While so many books on samurai and samurai armor tend to rely either on period block prints (which are highly stylized and rather unhelpful) or photographs of armor on display racks, this book shows armor and costumes worn by real people, with each outfit posed in several different ways. I was very pleased with this book, and I think it will be immensely helpful. The only think keeping this book from receiving my full 5 stars is that some of the outfits' colors art so dark that it makes it difficult to determine the folds and drape of the fabric, making them dubious resources. However, this is only a minor quibble.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Decent Book
Comment: This book is decent, if you know what you're getting. It's primarily a picture book, with a wide variety of both military and civilian Japanese dress from various periods (primarily military dress/armor). The pictures are all actual modern color photos of reenactors with blank white background to them, and brief descriptions of the costume and purpose (some of which is actual antique, but most is reproduction).
On the good side, it's a great book for actually seeing what the stuff really looked like on real people. On the downside, there was apparently no editor with English as a first language, so bad sentence structure, grammar and spelling are rampant; but no big deal as it is brief and still gets the point across. You can also see the guys with the distinct samurai hair cuts are wearing obvious rubber bald-caps, and the same few individuals throughout. Also, the author oversteppes the bounds of his knowledge once or twice when attempting to compare things to Western equivalents.

It's worth the money if you know what you're getting.


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