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Feature CREATIVE ROOTS 21 1 st CENTURY YOROI Samurai armor for modern Japan S NAYALAN MOODLEY AMURAI are recognized around the world as iconic emblems of Japanese culture. Their modern image is striking and romantic: powerful, honorable warriors clad in magnificent armor, finely honed katana in hand. And while the katana may be the foremost symbol of the samurai, no less distinctive is their trademark armor, or yoroi. Marutake Sangyo Co., Ltd., is Japan’s premier producer of realistic, historically accurate, useable samurai armor. Based in Satsumasendai City, Kagoshima Prefecture, the company was founded in 1958 by Shinobu Tanoue, an avid collector of samurai arms and armor. At the time the company made bamboo fishing rods, but as the fishing industry began to shift away from bamboo, Tanoue saw the potential in armor production and restoration. This led him to re-create Marutake Sangyo as a maker of traditional Japanese yoroi. Following advice from a network of armor collectors and historical armor experts, the company spent years refining its techniques, eventually landing deals producing armor for television and films. The company now claims to manufacture 90 percent of the armor and props used in Japan’s televised historical dramas and movies, and has provided armor for Akira Kurosawa’s classics ‘Ran’ and ‘Kagemusha.’ 8 | highlighting japan 2