Archive for 'Samurai'

Samurai Masks


What I love about Japanese design—whether it’s an orange sherbet colored mini fridge or a wrinkled and mustachioed samurai mask—is the craftsmanship and attention to detail. I’d trade my sorry ol’ 1970’s Frigidaire for a tabletop model if I wasn’t so fond of ice cream, and in fact, I’m guessing it was the sweat drainpipes built into their masks that kept samurai loyal, not their code of ethics.
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Taking a teabowl into one’s hands conveys volumes of information that cannot be gleaned by viewing them from behind glass–a sad necessity in museums. Staff, volunteers, and the public have been fortunate to have been able to handle several museum quality teabowls over the past few weeks in the context of the tea-related programming.

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Harajuku Street Fashion, Top Gun, and Samurai Women

One of the most memorable festivals I attended during my time living in Tokyo was the Spring Grand Festival at Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu). Meiji Shrine is located in the western parts of Tokyo in Shibuya ward. This Shinto shrine is dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Emperor Meiji was the symbolic leader of the restored Imperial government of Japan during a period of rapid modernization at the end of the 19th century.

Harajuku station and Takeshita street are located right in front of the main entry to the shrine grounds. Harajuku on a Sunday is the best place to see Japanese youth rockin’ their indescribable street fashion. My favorite was definitely the gothic-lolita kids hanging out on the bridge in front of the main gate to the shrine grounds. Imagine a cross between an emo Count Dracula and Alice in Wonderland. Yet once into the shrine grounds I always felt sense of sacred purity (especially after the craziness of Harajuku!)
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Samurai: From the green to the Inner Richmond and beyond

For the past few months we’ve been working hard on a fun lil’ project and finally,  the time has come. We are THRILLED to unveil it.

Are you ready? Here we go…

Though the final products have strayed from the original storyboards, the overall take away message remains and echoes a major theme of Lords of the Samurai: there’s more to samurai than you think.

The star samurai is none other than our very own “Kenji,” the museum’s school programs associate.

We hope you enjoy! If you dig them, then please help spread the word and share the love. Let us know what you think. We love comments / feedback!

A special shout out goes to Sean Dana / 7G Productions, for realizing our vision on limited resources. His wicked sense of humor was right in line with our intended hamminess, and he’s super-creative!

Samurai umbrella

To what extent has the romance of the samurai permeated popular contemporary culture? Here’s a clue. For $29.99 it is now possible to buy a “samurai sword handle on a push button operated nylon umbrella” complete with a nylon “scabbard” on a shoulder strap.

via Book of Joe

Gojira reconnects with his roots

further proof that the museum is an important cultural meeting place.

further proof that the museum is an important cultural meeting place.

We don’t have an admission policy for kaiju, but I’m willing to guess that they get in for free like their slightly larger human friends here.

I’d like to thank the parents of these young patrons of the arts for letting me take their picture, and bearing with me while I explained how I used to bring my special friends with me everywhere (in this case, probably a Wookie).

A final peek behind the scenes

Lords of the Samurai officially opens today and already the ground floor buzz is strong. For those of us who work on bringing together exhibitions, it is always a little strange to walk into the galleries that we have spent weeks sequestered in and to find them full of crowds, conversation, and fearless children staring down suits of armor. Always the objects look a little bit different — like they were not fully alive until that first visitor walks through the door.

As we begin to move on to an assortment of other projects that have been patiently waiting in the wings, I thought I’d wrap-up our Samurai Behind-The-Scenes series  with a few photos that never quite made it to the blog, featuring a (very) small part of the incredible team of museum staff and distinguished visitors who helped make this show happen. Enjoy!

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Daimyo for a day–the making of experience

Daimyo for a Day Room

The two to three weeks before an exhibition opens is always exciting and intense. In my corner of the museum, my colleagues and I are busy preparing for opening weekend programs and the unveiling of the Daimyo for a Day Art and Activity Room.

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Return of the nine-planets

Now that we’re done installing the exhibition Lords of the Samurai — opening this Friday (although if you’re a member of the museum you can sneak a peek on Thursday) — it’s time for us exhibition folks to take a bit of a breather and have some light fun.

In this spirit of fun and games, and as a follow-up to our popular Nine-Planet blog post, we now bring you a few more examples of the Hosokowa family crest as  found among the many objects now in the galleries.

Although frequently referred to as the “nine-planet” crest, according to Assistant Curator of Japanese Art Melissa Rinne this design actually derives from a concept in Indian cosmology known as the nine grahas  (see the Wikipedia entry here).

How many of these nine-planet crests will you be able to find on your next visit?

Nine-planets 2

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Getting in the Samurai mood…

I love vintage photography and so I went on a search of Samurai portraits. This slide show has a wonderful mix of armor and swords. It was very touching watching of this video, there so much sadness and pride within these men.