|Me in Japan 2003.|
One of my majors in college was in Asian Studies with an emphasis on Japan, so a lot of exhibits I come across don't show me anything particularly new. The DIA exhibit, however, was pretty good! Everything they had was in remarkable condition, and there was, as the name implies, more than weapons and armor. (Though there was plenty of that, too. My favorite suit of armor was of a lower ranking samurai who had compiled his suit from cast-offs of other samurai. I thought he did a fine job, keeping it in a lovely blue and purple scheme.)
|No photos were allowed |
at the DIA. Here is a
picture of armor I took
from a temple in Japan.
I guess my only complaint is that not enough attention was paid to samurai women. It would have been fantastic to have had even a corner of a room that talked about onnabugeisha (though they did have the actual picture featured on the page of the previous link, it was just in a line of other Forty-Seven Ronin prints). There was talk of the Genpei War (1180s), but I didn't see Tomoe Gozen's name anywhere. I saw one naginata, yet nothing about the close ties it had, and continues to have, to women. (While in Japan, I was lucky enough to learn a basic naginata maneuver. I tried to pursue the study upon returning to the US, but I guess it just isn't as popular as the katana here.)
|Samurai historical reenactor|
at Eiga Mura (Movie Village)
Overall, I really was pleased with this exhibit in how it showed the beautiful artistic side of samurai and not just the awesome killing. I have seen two samurai exhibits previously, one in Osaka Castle in Japan which featured a sword that, it claimed, still had on it the dried blood of the last man it killed, and another more recently in Montreal of last year that had a ton of armor, helms, and weaponry, as well as a focus on the spiritual side, mostly Zen beliefs and philosophies. This latter truly complemented the DIA exhibit. If they could be combined into one giant exhibit, I think it would be the best samurai exhibit ever!
Now I want to look into the history of onnabugeisha and other samurai women and write an article on them. Or maybe just a blog post. Ah well. As they say in Japan, ja ne!