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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 14, 2009

Samurai spirit lives on in San Francisco

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Kumamoto Castle, one of the premier castles in Japan, is depicted here. The castle was built in 1607; in 1877, it became the site of Japan's last civil war, and large parts of it were destroyed. Much of what remains are reconstructions from the 1960s.

Photos courtesy of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Some of the items on display at the "Lords of the Samurai" exhibit include The Book of Five Rings, a five-part treatise about swordsmanship, top; a sake bottle and food box set, above; and a reproduction of an elaborate suit of armor.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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One of Japan's most distinguished warrior clans, the Hosokawa family, is offering visitors to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco an opportunity to learn about the samurai lords and their culture in an exhibition that includes armor, costumes, weaponry, art and cultural artifacts.

"Lords of the Samurai," which runs through Sept. 20, focuses on the daimyo, provincial lords of the warrior class in feudal Japan from approximately the 1300s to 1860.

Through more than 160 objects that will be rotated throughout the exhibition, visitors can learn about samurai principles, from their fierce fighting training to their artistic, cultural and spiritual pursuits.

The exhibition's centerpiece is an authentic reproduction of the elaborate suit of armor worn for mounted combat by Hosokawa Yoriari (1331-1390), founder of the Hosokawa clan.

In another gallery, a special group of objects is dedicated to Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645), the greatest samurai swordsman of his day, while other collections feature accomplishments in art, culture and spirituality from other members of a family that included warriors, poets, tea masters, political leaders and artists.

Each rotation will include more than 100 heirloom arms and armor, paintings and decorative and applied art objects.

According to Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum, the collection allows viewers to explore the lineage of a daimyo family that dates back 700 years to better understand the classic samurai warrior-gentleman in early modern Japan.

Most of the objects come from the Hosokawa family's collection usually housed in the Eisei-Bunko Museum in Tokyo and Kumamoto Castle, the family's former home on Kyushu island in Japan.

Seven artworks have been designated "important cultural properties" by the Japanese government, while another three have been distinguished as "important art objects" for their notable artistic and historical significance.

For more information, call 415-581-3500 or visit www.asianart.org.