Heroes In The Half-Shell: Samurai Wore Huge, Turtle-Like Back Protection

By | August 29, 2019

test article image
Those aren't backpacks or turtle shells...they are the Samurais' Horo. Source: (reddit.com)

If you were to travel back in time and witness warriors going into battle with huge, shell-like bulges on their backs, it means you've landed in one of two time-spaces: 1980s New York City or feudal Japan. Take a look at the warriors. Are they adolescent boys who morphed into reptiles after coming in contact with radioactive sewage or samurai soldiers? Believe it or not, it could be either, thanks to a traditional samurai garment called a horo. What's a horo, and why did samurai wear these odd-looking turtle shells in battle?

test article image
The Samurai Horo may call to mind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Source: (time.com)

What is a Horo?

Samurai warriors had a lot of strange battle garments, like clan badges and elaborate helmets, but the horo was probably the weirdest. It was essentially a cape, but it had a framework underneath it to poof it out and hold it in a rounded position. Early on, the framework was made of silk fabric that was tightly sewn into flexible strips, like stays in a corset. Later, whalebones were used in the same way that they were used in corsets. Over the framework was the silk cape, adorned with the warrior's family crest.