Short Cuirass, Vertical iron bands joined with leather
This is a cuirass that saw actual use in the 4th century, during the Kofun period (Ca. 3rd–7th c.). Armor from this period was limited to short cuirasses, called tankō, which only protected the torso. They consist of long, vertical metal parts bound together with leather cords. The top and bottom of the cuirass are also wrapped in leather to prevent the edges of the parts from striking the wearer’s body. In later periods, the component parts of armor became more complex, iron rivets replaced leather as fasteners, and armor production increased. In the 4th century, when this cuirass was made, however, exchange between Japan and the Korean Peninsula or China was still sparse, and iron armor was extremely valuable.
This cuirass was discovered in an ancient burial mound in the city of Kōfu in present-day Yamanashi Prefecture. It is thought to have been made either in the Gaya confederacy in the south of the Korean Peninsula, or in Japan by an artisan from Gaya. We can infer that the occupant of the burial mound was a powerful figure with the ability to obtain armor made with what was then cutting-edge technology from foreign lands.