Marutake - A look behind the art of Samurai Armor making in Kagoshima 甲冑工房丸武-鹿児島川内で、鎧兜作りの技に触れる


Recently we had the pleasure to visit and get an exclusive look behind the doors of Samurai armor maker "Marutake".

Located in Sendai city, Kagoshima, the Southern region of Japan (not to be confused with Sendai city in Miyagi), Marutake welcomes guests with open gates - a little armor wonderland so to speak!
Visitors can take a stroll among the castle looking grounds and see first hand how the armors are being crafted, visit the large Samurai armor gallery or even experience wearing one!

impression of the castle and the venue


Currently you can see the original armor base model for the samurai movie, THE LEGEND & BUTTERFLY starred by Takuya Kimura and Haruka Ayase to be in cinema on 27, January, 2023 in Japan. 


The family run company compounds also offer a restaurant to rest and energize with good and affordable food, a little shooting range for fun and a gift shop - in case you want to invest in smaller armor related goods or gifts before getting the real deal. Occasionally there are events hosted as well!

Mr. Tanoue, CEO, who runs this family business, gave us an in-depth tour during our visit and explained about the armors and craftsmanship as well as history. Below is the exclusive interview with the CEO!:







木村拓哉さん、綾瀬はるかさん出演で2023年1月27日(金)に公開される映画「レジェンド&バタフライ(THE LEGEND & BUTTERFLY)」での甲冑の原型もありましたよ!

そして、施設内には、レストランがあり、お手頃価格で美味しい食事が頂けます。個人的には、唐揚げと味噌カツがおすすめです。その他、射的ゲーム(懐かしい)やお土産屋さんもありますよ。鎧兜関連のお土産が豊富で、「本物の甲冑はまだ・・・」という方にお勧めです 笑

同社の社長さんであり創業家でもある田ノ上さんに、施設のご紹介を頂きました。以下、独占インタビューです! 笑

- Please introduce yourself

Tanoue: "I am the third generation running the samurai armor company MaruTake. I was born in Kagoshima and left here to work in Tokyo at the age of 18 where I worked in a major costume/clothes company for film production - Shochiku and also worked behind a Japanese traditional dance stage - Nihon buyo. Afterwards I worked in car and motor bike maintanance, sales and restoration business which was also my hobby. I came back to Kagoshima to take over the company from my father. My sister is staying in Tokyo, to run the Samurai armor shop in Chiyoda, Tokyo.

Currently there are about 40 people working and most if them are craft masters. It is not the one person does all, but each of them specializes in some field e.g. metal wielding/cutting, fabric and thread sewing, painting, decoration, gold plating etc. Some are young as 19 years old and some are more experienced. Some workers came from totally different work backgrounds."

Anji comment: It is like with kimono making as well, where artists specialize in each part, honed to perfection.



若い人で19歳から、ベテランさんまでおられます。この仕事に就く前は、様々な他業種をしていた等、色々な分野からきています。 (田ノ上さん)



- How did the armor craft start?

Tanoue: "My grand father founded this company. He came from a poor background and ran a retail shop selling various items. As he was good at making things by hands, he started running the bamboo fishing rod business in ca. 1958 and went IPO. You know that time, the company name Marutake's Take was 竹( bamboo) in Kanji character and today we use a kanji for 武 (Samurai/bushi ) for "Take" - the same pronunciation. But the glass fiber fishing rod became a market standard and his company went bankrupt. It was that time, when he collected antique items including samurai armors as hobby.  
That time, there were no replica of samurai armor available. All samurai movies and dramas used real antique armors, which were often older than 400 years old, damaged, and easy to break and hard to repair. All the more, the size of armor of the old time was too small for modern Japanese body size. And the industry was looking for replicas. Because the grand father was close to the armor world, he came to know the needs and he created a head protection gear for a famous samurai movie. That was the start of Marutake armor.

He also started a local samurai festival using his collection and the event still takes place."





- Marutake accounts for 90% of all armors made for movies and epoch dramas, correct? Which project makes you most proud / was the one that kept your company busiest?

Tanoue: "Most of samurai armors produced for movie and drama are different from real armors. These are customized to be easy uses for the camera shooting.
Most difficult ones are for producing replicas for museums. For example, you can see Marutake replicas at Sendai City museum in Seidai city, Miyagi prefecture and Michinoku Date Masamune museum in Miyagi-gun, Miyagi. "



- Any major film where Marutake armor was used? (as far as allowed to disclose?)
Tanoue: "Yes, for example in Goemon starred by Yosuke Eguchi and so on."


- Why and who built a castle?

Tanoue: "My grandfather did. With the armor production in the rapid economy growth period, he built this venue with the castle and other facilities for tourists called "Sendai Sengoku village" in 1990, as he dreamt of. With a declining young population and poor economy, the management of the venue became harder.

In 2019, the whole venue was renovated and launched as "Kacchu Kobo Marutake / Samurai armor factory Marutake" - 365 days a year open and free to enter.
There are several attractions such as the samurai armor experience for almost all ages and body sizes, the armor gallery, an old style shooting game room, a restaurant to taste local foods, armor factory tour and occasionally festivals with music and dance shows."



- What makes Marutake armors special? How to see the difference to "fakes" / "badly made replicas"?

Tanoue: "Marutake produced samurai armors since 40 years ago, using the real armors from Samurai period as the base/reference. All hand made. It is not only the product in a form of a armor, but also it is the art created by the experienced craftsmanship.
You need a sense to differentiate from one from the other. When you put our armor next to fake ones, you can instantly tell."







- If having an armor tailored / made to order, how long does it take and can it be shipped to overseas? Does it include a stand for display?

Tanoue: "The samurai armor production takes 2 months, which may vary depending on the design/spec requirements. We ship to overseas. To be as close to the real armors as possible, our armors sometimes use natural materials which can not be imported to some countries by treaties. Thus, we need to check if no issue regarding this, before we take the orders and change the materials if the material has such an issue.
And, of course, for a full set a wooden box and the display stand is included."



- Is there a popular "armor style" or design which is often ordered by customers?

Tanoue: "This armor (O-037 Konitoodoshi oosode kuro nimaido) is one of the more popular items."
SALZ: Apart from their real armors, we saw a cat & dog armor in the gift shop and thought it was so cool! Let us show those here as well!


- Can the armor be easily put on by oneself or does one require assistance?
(In the old time, a samurai was of course dressed by the house staff, but it can be done by oneself, correct?)

Tanoue: "Yes, you can but sometimes you need a little help, depending on the armor. There are some YouTube videos on how to wear."



- How much is it to try the samurai armor? How long does it take to put on? Can I wear it all day?

Tanoue: "It starts from 500 JPY to 8000 JPY (as of Dec, 2022). It takes around 1-15 mins to put on. There are armors you can put yourself, to the ones you may need a helper to put on.
If no waiting line, you can wear it for a long time. If normally one hour. If summer, it will certainly be too hot to wear for a long time."



また、夏などとても暑いので、長くは着れないと思います。 (田ノ上さん)

- Marutake has a souvenir shop. What do you recommend to get there?

Tanoue: "Most of the souvenirs are related to the Sengoku-period. In the near future, we plan to sell Japanese rice wine (Sake/shochu) too. For example, Mushagaeshi from Kagoshima."




- Your sister runs an armor shop in Tokyo, correct? Can people see / try your products there?

Tanoue: "Marutake has a shop in Tokyo. You can also book to test Samurai armor too (with a fee)."



- What type of child were you? What hobbies / passions do you have apart from the armor business?  What is your dream?  

Tanoue: "I was a wild and unique kid passionate about crafting things and playing with machines.
My hobby is to restore motor bikes and cars etc.
My dream is to make the company full of happiness."


- What is your future plan?

Tanoue: "I would like more people outside Japan be interested in samurai armor. So far we only sold and did a rental service in Japan. We plan to sell to overseas and also produce more anime related armors.
We had some visitors coming all the way to our venue and ordering samurai armor which surprised me about how they knew our products and company.
Marutake produces totally original design and concept armor for you. If you have any interest, you are most welcome to contact us."



- Can I join your company and make samurai armor?

Tanoue: "Sure, we have many women working.
Marutake looks for new hires.  It is not an easy job. Sendai-city, Kagoshima where Marutake is located is quite remote even though being full of nature and easy to live. If you are interested in craftsmanship and looking for a job, you can contact us!"


丸武は新入社員を募集してます。但し、簡単な仕事ではありませんよ。それに丸武のある川内市は、自然も多く住みやすいですが、遠いですよ 笑 職人の仕事に興味があれば、連絡を下さい。 (田ノ上さん)

- - - -  

Thank you very much for showing us around and answering all our questions!
We had a lot of fun and learned a lot.



We are the official window for the Marutake shop. You can contact us if you want to order from Marutake, and get a special gift!

Do you need a real looking samurai armor or armor parts for theatre, drama production, feel free to contact us. Marutake produces totally original design and concept armor for you. If you have any questions, you are most welcome to contact us.




For everyone wanting to visit directly:

- Marutake main office and factory address -
3535-7 Yunoshima-cho, Satsuma-Sendai city, Kagoshima, 899-1923, Japan

The easiest way to get Marutake main office/factory is to get a taxi or rent a car from Sendai station of JR Kyushu. It is about 20 mins by car. If you are 4 people group, the company can provide a pickup service (with fee and with booking in advance) from Sendai station.

There is a bus running from Sendai station but not often.

- Tokyo shop address -
2-1-15 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0021, Japan

【丸武本社】〒899-1923 鹿児島県薩摩川内市湯島町3535-7
    TEL:0996-26-3113 FAX:0996-26-3213



【千代田店】〒101-0021 東京都千代田区外神田2丁目1-15
    TEL:03-5256-4618 FAX:03-5577-5782


For online browsing and armor shopping:

WEB shop in English

Official website (in Japanese)


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