The Samurai Art Museum in Berlin plays host to the highest quality and quantity of Japanese Armour outside of Japan, in fact, it is without a doubt the leading museum in the world for katchu.
In October 2017 I was invited by the owner Mr Peter Janssen to look at an armour he needed to be re-laced. The armour, a full gusoku was originally owned by Kato Yasuzumi (加藤泰済, 1785-1826) who was the 10th Kato daimyo of the Ozu fief of Iyo province.
It is just not any armour, it is the focal centrepiece of the museum. One of the reasons Mr Janssen asked me to replace the silk braid odoshi was that the original braid was very wide, and sourcing such a braid from Japan was almost impossible. But not for me as I have my own odoshi machinery which allowed me to make a custom braid in quantity to complete the task.
The original silk braid was black, due to the iron content in the dye the braid had virtually disintegrated and was literally falling apart as a nasty black dust. After nine long days, I had removed all the original lace and replaced it with a new braid. There were many complications with this commission. Firstly the work was conducted at the museum where I had to be creative and make frames to hang the parts onsite, the most challenging aspect was that I could not remove the kanamono metal fittings, nor the outer silk mimi-ito edging braid. Lacing this way is most unusual and at times proved to be very difficult. However, the finished armour is very pleasing and its a comfort to know that it will now be intact for many decades to come.