Ashigaru are the often conscripted foot soldiers who form the infantry of Keshiki armies.

Ashigaru, which probably stems from the idea of them being ‘lightly armored’, were the lowest class warriors. They were drawn from either the low-class buke (warrior class) or from commoners that had joined or been impressed into the daimyō’s army.

The first ashigaru were mercenaries or adventurers who were paid only in loot. Eventually some of these sellswords became part of the local armies as retained warriors. Those that rose to prominence on strength of sword and deed are given control of the ashigaru are called ashigarugashira, or ashigaru head in Common, and are provided with an annual stipend.

The ashigaru are pure foot soldiers- the calvary is the exclusive domain of the samurai. They are often armed with naginata, katana, yumi and arrows, or just with yari unless they serve as handlers of the catapults. Their usual armor consists of conical hats called jingasa, breastplates, and occasionally greaves to protect their legs. Some also donned small banners on their back during battle for identification purposes, called sashimono. They needed to bring sufficient supplies with them to reach the rally point, at which time they were supplied by the daimyō’s warehouses.

An ashigaru with jingasa, yumi, quiver, arrows, and a sword. Note that the sword is not sheathed- he would never use it unless a last resort and therefore did not worry too much about keeping it safe being a Kyūjutsu practitioner.



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