Home > Biography of Icchu Kato, the artisan of Japanese armor
Biography of Icchu Kato, the artisan of Japanese armor
Creator of authentic armor and war helmets, Icchu Kato seeks the "real"
"I don't really like the helmets or armor that is technically accomplished"
says Kato Icchu the Second.
"Techniques of modern times can never achieve its culturally flourished era like Ashikaga. Armors that were made in Heian period are much more attractive, which is the hue of war implements, yet technological. Those have a functional beauty as weapons."
He has involved in fixing and reconstruction of national heirloom and national important cultural properties, and he made armor for the ceremony in the accession of the Japanese emperor.
Icchu also believes that it is important to know how the armor and helmets of ancient era are really like in order to re-create them authentically; therefore he goes around everywhere in Japan whenever to see newly found armor and helmets.
Icchu's armor and war helmets show his diligent skill and instinctive taste.
Icchu was born in Tokyo in 1933. Just after WW2 when he was in Junior High
he started to follow his father, Kato Icchu the First.
"I began making armors with nothing but my father's skill, which became my base of my technique. As a result, the experience helped."
He makes all the tags for his armor and helmets.
"The hardest point of all is the total balance. You shouldn't focus on each detail when making it. If it loses the total balance, it may give a bad impression. It is hardly to grow up with the sense that to you look at it in whole. You must have sense in nature."
Even loud colored fancy helmets used to be sold, but customers in these days have certain eyes to choose products that are secure to the history, like ones that Icchu makes.
He receives orders from schools and museums as well as general orders. Sometimes he takes years to finish the order, and those products cost 20,000,000 to 30,000,000 yen.
Icchu's works are the fruit of condensed traditional skill.
"Every time I see the traditional armor, I discover something new. Like,
how the armor maker worked hard, how it feels like to wear, how
it worked when fighting ...I can imagine and feel those kinds of things."
His dream is to make a Set of armor that represents this century. It must be actualized very soon, for his wonderful techniques and works.
Personal history and news of Icchu Kato
Important works of Icchu
In the accession of the Japanese emperor, he made armor "Keiko-no yoroi" for the ceremony.
By the request of Edo-Tokyo Museum, he made a replica of "Akaito o yoroi," one of the national important cultural properties. The expense of making the armor was tens of millions of yen.
He has involved in fixing of national heirloom, "Sen-nin Musha gyoretsu" (1000 warriors' procession) at Nikko Tosho-gu.
Icchu has involved others in fixing and reconstruction of national heirloom and national important cultural properties.
10.21.1992 Published by free paper "Weekly Toko Tsushin"
4.25.1995 Published by "Tokyo metropolitan truck news"
5.1.2005 Featured by "Yomiuri Shimbun"
8.1.2006 Featured by "Yomiuri Shimbun Musashino edition"