Shingen Ko Festival! – 信玄公祭り (しんげんこうまつり)

‘The Largest Gathering of Samurai’ – Guinness World Records, April 2012.


As you have seen in earlier posts in the build up to the samurai parade we have been working very hard to prepare and finish the armour in time.




A short video of the coming up to the parade and the post about making the samurai armour.

The Big day – 9/4/16


After the long wait, it’s time to finally march in the Parade!  Held here in Kofu the city of my study year abroad. Convenient I hear you say…



The plan was to wake up nice and early, get the armour on and head into Kofu city centre on the train for the start of the parade.  All was going well with only a few costume hick ups, noting that the master craftsmen couldn’t fix with ease though!

After an hour or two of everyone getting ready, some worry worts putting on diapers, we made our way to the train station.

Diapers I hear you ask, yes diapers… Someone had the bright idea of telling everyone that the parade would last a long time and there would be no toilet breaks. Their solution was to wear a diaper (or 3, literally 3).  Don’t worry I can put your minds at rest and tell you that there were no accidents and everyone got home with a dry bum. Or at least I think they did?




Of course, everyone in Yamanashi knows about the parade, but that didn’t stop the funny looks as we made our way to the train station.

The Parade Route

We started at the Prefectural office and marched through the streets to the castle for the opening ceremony.




After marching to Kofu Castle we sat down on the green and listened to the opening ceremony! Then it was time for the full parade, marching around the city centre and off to battle we went.


IMG_1364Bendik Aarsæther

She thinks that’s bad, try living beside him.. 😉



We had the great honour of being allowed to take part in the parade itself, but as if that wasn’t enough we also got to march with this man in our group!



Kuninobu Takeda ’16th Generation descendant of Takeda Shingen’

One of the only living decedents of Takeda Shingen. Talk about amazing!



Some of the other performances during the parade.



After a few more hours of walking we were back to the starting point and it was time to grab a quick bento, oh and photos!




For obvious reasons I couldn’t take any photos on the day, I have been given permission by everyone to use all of the photos and videos that  you see in this post.


Big Thanks

Bendik Aarsæther, BA Productions   ( )

Saitoh Naoki, LANDSCAPE FILMS  (

Ellie Parker-Harbord  (@icemonkey65 on Instagram)

Josephine Dryden  (@josiedryden on Instagram)

Yuka Shimazu  (@yuc4t4n on Instagram )

iCLA   (

Everyone else who helped make this possible



Time to get the armour off and get the beers in! What an amazing day and what an amazing experience!


Thanks for reading/looking






I’ll leave you with this..



Homemade Samurai Armour Part 2 (Helmet)

(You can see the helmet in its complete stage above, this also happened to be when I was interviewed for CATV a Japanese TV Channel that is broadcast to over 800,000 people, no pressure.. )

The second part of my Samurai Armour instalment,

When constructing the armour I thought long and hard about the helmet as it really is the centrepiece for any samurai armour. There are such vast amounts of styles and variations when it comes to this part of the samurai armour it was actually very difficult to choose. After looking through lots of different resources online and in books provided by Watanabe sensei I found one and based my design roughly around it!


Making the horns

I started off by making a cardboard cutout of one side then using it as a stencil to make both sides identical. After cutting, tweaking and perfecting it I scored the outline on to the same black plastic sheets that were used for the rest of the armour. This would act as the support and backbone really of the horns.

After cutting out the insert I cut out two pieces of styrofoam in the shape of the horns. 20160226_122536

Then I worked them with the Stanley knife shaving the sides and rounding off both sides, then I used a fine course sandpaper and smoothed off the edges.

Then same then I taped and glued the two pieces together with the plastic cutout in between.

The next stage was to add cloth over the top of the black tape to allow me to spray them easier. Also, this was a chance to add an effect to the horns so they weren’t perfectly smooth making them more like an animal’s horn.

After many layers of glue (about 7 or 8) I started to smooth out the surface using sand paper then repeating the glueing process to take away the ragged edge of the cloth. After three or four more layers it was ready to have its final dry then paint!

After the paint had dried I attached the two pieces together and fitted them to my helmet. The final result looks pretty awesome I think anyway! Let me know what you think!


(This is an older photo there has been more modifications made to the armour for example, all the blue thread you see has been changed to purple and the Takeda mon has been added to the hand guards)

Thanks for looking/reading



Homemade Samurai Armour

Now where to begin….

So much has happened in the last 5 months since starting the samurai armour project.

Let’s start from the beginning, the first process was to cut out the paper temples from the guide that we were giving by Watanabe sensei (a master contemporary samurai armour craftsmen). After cutting out the templates I taped the paper onto the plastic plates – the reason for using plastic was for ease and it is much faster.


After cutting out the all of the pieces the edges needed sanding off and all of the dots you see needed to be punched out.

The stage after this involves threading the pieces of plastic together.

Then it was a matter of threading these pieces to the main body plate and designing the body plate itself.

After all the various pieces were threaded together I could start to personalise my armour to be the way I wanted it! The samurai were famous for using decorative knots, (actually, most traditional Japanese things use knots in some way, from Sado to Kudo they appear in all shapes and sizes) I wanted to try out making some and using them on my armour. Coming from Ireland I was really interested in the Celtis and the knots that they made, I thought incorporating this would add a nice personal touch.

These are examples of the Celtic and Japanese knots that I tied. After some more tweaking I added the Takeda Mon (or crest) to the chest plate, I really think it works well and the end result is awsome!! IMG_4198

Now that the armour was nearing completion I wanted to make a start to the helmet.

Thanks for reading/looking



Samurai, Samurai, Samurai (and my latest project)

When in Japan one must ‘Samurai, Samurai, Samurai’!!

When thinking about Japan we are all extremely interested in these figureheads from the land of the rising sun! The samurai over time has become a key focus for people from all around the world. When you think Japan, at first, you think anime, sushi, and samurai or was that just me?

So the samurai are a pretty big deal, even for the Japanese people this keen interested is shared. Many businesses try to see from the point of view of the samurai, shaping or changing their business accordingly and even your everyday Japanese person tries to live by the samurai’s code or ‘bushidō’.

There is of course so much history surrounding the samurai but I won’t get into that today. There is one samurai I would like to talk about in particular though and he goes by the name of Takeda Shingen. He was born and lived in the city Kofu, Yamanashi Which just so happens to be the place where I am currently studying! Takada was considered to be one of the greatest of all the Japanese samurai generals.

You may be thinking to yourself, where is he going with this?? But of course, the reason I am telling you about Takeda Shingen is to do with the legacy that he has left on to this day. As he was born and lived in Kofu there is a parade held in his remembrance. The Shingen-ko matsuri or Shingen Festival. During the 3 day festival that is held during the first week of April, every year participants reenact the march that Takeda Shingen and his soldiers would have taken every time they went to war. It also happens to be the most famous samurai parade in Japan and is technically the biggest in the world. Oh, and it’s in the Guinness book of records also!!

So again you ask, Why is he still talking about this Takeda guy and the parade?

Well as it just so happens one of my latest projects turns out to be making my very own samurai armour! Oh and marching in the Shingen festival… (no biggie right?????) A few months ago I was asked if I would be interested in making my own samurai armour and after making it be in the parade, I of course jumped at the opportunity. As the parade is next weekend I have basically completed my armour but I will make a post telling you about the processes in which I made the armour! I will attach a link here when I finish it!


Thanks for reading/looking