A type of helmet first used by ancient Japanese warriors, and in later periods, they became an important part of the traditional Japanese armor worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan.
Kabuto (兜, 冑) is a type of helmet first used by ancient Japanese warriors, and in later periods, they became an important part of the traditional Japanese armor worn by the samurai class and their retainers in feudal Japan.
Note that the word kabuto is an appellative in the Japanese language, not a type description, and can refer to any combat helmet.
Kabuto is one of the Japanese helmets which like any other feature it has a history. Japanese helmets dating from the fifth century (long before the rise of the samurai class) have been found in excavated tombs. Called mabizashi-tsuke kabuto (visor-attached helmet), these styles came from China and Korea and had a pronounced central ridge are considered as Kabuto’s origin.
Kabuto, which is now known as a samurai helmet, first appeared in the 10th century Heian period with the appearance of ō-yoroi. In the Sengoku Period in the 16th century, when battles between samurai changed into gun and group battles, ō-yoroi and dō-maru went out of fashion and tosei-gusoku (gusoku) was born, and the style of kabuto changed greatly.
In the Edo period, when the Tokugawa shogunate defeated the Toyotomi clan at the Summer Siege of Osaka and the society became peaceful, armor with a revival of the medieval times became popular, and ō-yoroi and dō-maru style was made again.
The kabuto was an important part of the equipment of the samurai, and played a symbolic role as well, which may explain the Japanese expressions, sayings, and codes related to them. One example is Katte kabuto no o wo shimeyo (lit. “Tighten the string of the kabuto after winning the war”). These means don’t lower your efforts after succeeding (compare to “not to rest on one’s laurels”). Also, kabuto wo nugu (lit. “to take off the kabuto”) means to surrender.
Kabutos are often adorned with crests called datemono or tatemono; the four types of decorations were the maedate (frontal decoration), wakidate (side decorations), kashiradate (top decoration), and ushirodate (rear decoration). These can be family crests (mon), or flat or sculptural objects representing animals, mythical entities, prayers, or other symbols. Horns are particularly common, and many kabuto incorporate kuwagata, stylized antlers.