Back in 2006, one of Sir Ogami Akira's squires asked me if I would make a gift for Sir Ogami. He'd seen the karabitsu I'd made, and asked me to branch out and make a gusokubitsu. A gusokubitsu is a box used for carrying armor. It has a suqare base and is tall enough to contain the torso armor and all the other bits that suspend from the shoulders and waist. (The kabuto helm is noramlly stored separately.) When you see a set of Samurai armor on display, it is usally sitting on its gusokubitsu.
Designs of these vary widely, actually. I've seen basketry ones, ornate boxes banded with iron, and simple wooden boxes. I decided to go with a pretty simple box, and decorate it with Sir Ogami's armory. The photo at right shows the completed gusokubitsu nestled among the rest of Sir Ogami's Pennsic supplies, where it looks right at home. It's actually sitting on a much nicer chest.
I don't know if he'll wind up using it for his armor, but it was fun to make, and it was my pleasure to chip in my skills to make this gift. The squire has been "in theater", as they say in the armed forces, for about two years and we sure do miss having him at Pennsic.
Like the karabitsu before it, this box was made with a shell of 1/4" plywood and a skeleton of 1x1 pine. The lid slides on and off, and is fully removable. A second layer of plywood lines the top inside, and provides a lip onto which the lid slides. It fits pretty tightly, actually. Rectangles of plywood also line the sides behind the rope holes, as reinforcement. It should be possible to lift the rope loops above the lid and slide a pole through them, to make it easier for two people to carry the full chest.
The box is painted with a couple layers of primer that contain the insulating paint additive I used on the white karabitsu. This should keep the interior from roasting stored armor if it is left in the sun. The primer is covered in red enamel paint to make the whole thing reasonably watertight. Sir Ogami's mon is painted on in white enamel paint.
Most of the building process was about the same as that of the white storage karabitsu in terms of framing and assembly. About the only thing unusual was the decorative painting. Luckily, I was able to figure out a way to lay out the design using 2" masking tape. The first version, used for the lid, is displayed at right. This version isn't quite equilateral, but the second version used on the face of the box, is more accurate. The mon came out really sharp and bright, and I'm very proud of it.
Sharon and I presented the gusokubitsu to Sir Ogami in the name of his squire at Pennsic Clan Dinner in 2008. Sir Ogami was very pleased with the gift, and I hope the squire returns home safely and soon so he can view it himself.