Sense of Beauty Fostered in Samurai CultureEssence of Samurai Spirit Found in Beautiful Suits of Armor, Japanese Swords, and Other Arms.
Samurai emerged in the Heian Period (9th century); their leaders ruled Japan in a practical sense for centuries, from the Kamakura Period (12th century) to the Edo Period (17th to the mid-19th century). Samurai wore Japanese swords at their side even in normal times. In battle, they wore suits of armor and fought bravely using bows and arrows, swords, spears, and other such weapons. Until the beginning of the 17th century, local warlords led many subordinates and engaged in fierce battles for power. These subordinates were so loyal to their lords that they gladly sacrificed their own lives. They also had their own views of life and death, and placed their first priority on ensuring their honor and pride. The spiritual aesthetics distinctive to the samurai were thus developed.
The designs and styles of their arms varied and developed according to the battle style and the following changes in the times: when the main battle style was single combat; when the main style was group combat; when gun troops were used in battle; and when peace was established in Japan and when the status of suits of armor changed from an essential article to a symbol of dignity. The sense of beauty condensed into such arms represents the very culture of the samurai spirit. The museum exhibits many historical art works representing samurai culture according to the times. The museum is the only place where you can compare so many articles and feel their atmosphere directly.
Japan’s Largest-Class Collection of Suits of Armor Mainly from the Edo Period
Samurai wore suits of armor to protect themselves in battle. Such suits consisted of two pieces: an armor to protect the body; and a helmet to protect the head. The suits can be categorized roughly into two groups: O-yoroi (large armor), which was a symbol of power and the main style from the Heian Period to the Muromachi Period; and Tosei-gusoku (a contemporary suit of armor), which was a functional item and the main style worn during the Warring States Period. Since many of our exhibits were created during the peaceful Edo Period, you can view many excellent items with sophisticated designs and luxurious features. All the expensive items were custom-made, commanding the price of a newly built house. Come and appreciate the lofty pride of samurai.