Samurai armor was mainly made of iron, but leather was also used alongside metal to make the armor lighter. The armor was crafted by skilled artisans and consisted of many small iron or leather plates held together by silk or leather laces, allowing for flexibility and ease of movement.
Samurai armor was not designed to stop bullets, as it was invented before the introduction of firearms to Japan. When firearms were introduced, samurai armor was modified to include new designs, such as the Yukinoshita-do armor and the nanban-do armor, inspired by European armor that was already facing the problem of stopping bullets.
Samurai armor was designed to protect warriors against arrows and later modified to protect against other weapons such as spears, swords, and firearms. The armor was effective in its intended purpose and allowed samurai to engage in battle with greater protection.
Leather armor, along with iron, was often used to protect against sword slashes and arrows. Tests have shown that it can be effective in protecting against sword strikes.
While early Japanese armor included plate armor, the samurai armor was made of overlapping layers of lacquered iron or leather rather than pure steel plate armor. The armor was designed to be relatively lightweight and flexible, allowing for quick and agile movements in battle.
Samurai armor was often decorated with bright colors and intricate designs to reflect the colors of the clan and the personality and status of the daimyo, or lord. Colors did not have specific meanings but were a matter of personal preference.
Samurai armor was produced for a long time due to the isolationist policies of Japan during the early 17th century, which limited the introduction of new military technologies such as firearms. Samurai continued to wear armor in battles against each other, even during the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century when the samurai class was abolished.