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  • Thumbnail for Oyoroi  Samurai Armor
    Oyoroi Samurai Armor

    Oyoroi (literally "great armor") was the loose-fitting defensive armor of mounted archers that was developed late in the Heian period. It is made chiefly of leather and iron bound together to form horizontal tiers.

  • Thumbnail for Oyoroi or "Great" Armor
    Oyoroi or "Great" Armor

    According to Hosokawa family tradition, this set of armor was worn in a 1358 battle in Kyoto by Hosokawa Yoriari, the founder of the family. Much of the original assemblage hat protects the body has survived: the cuirass and its pendant kusazuri (protective skirt), including the entire waidate (right side guard), and the kyubi no ita, which is suspended from the left shoulder over the chest. The two expansive osode (large upper-arm guards) are replacements dating from the sixteenth century and the sendan no ita, which would have been suspended from the right shoulder over the chest, is missing. The hoshi kabuto (star helmet) is made of narrow trapezoidal iron plates fixed with rows of neatly assembled rivets. The right-hand flap of the shikoro has lost several of its lacquered lames, a reminder of a sword blow during a fierce battle. - abridged from Shimizu, "Japan: The Shaping of Daimyo Culture".

  • Thumbnail for School -- students'  kendo sticks from an after school club
    School -- students' kendo sticks from an after school club

    All middle school students are required to participate in after -school activity clubs at the school. They are free to select which clubs they wish to join, but participation is mandatory. The clubs, of course, are group activities, an important part of education in Japan. Many of the clubs focus on areas of traditional Japanese culture, such as tea ceremony or ikebana. This photo shows the wooden swords - kendo sticks - of students belonging to the club that learns and practices the traditional art of kendo.

  • Thumbnail for Weapons
    Weapons

    A variety of Japanese weapons, including a spear, rake, halberd, spiked pole, curved lance, wooden mallet, battle-ax, musket, bow, quivers, and arrows with a variety of tips.

  • Thumbnail for Black Japanese Helmet
    Black Japanese Helmet

    Helmet, black with gold 5-petal flower emblem, red underside. Japanese helmet of the type called jingasa, 12x 13 inches. Lacquered wood in excellent condition. During the Tokugawa period, a key means of social control were the great parades of warlords and their retainers going to and from the capital city of Edo, where they were required to spend every other year in attendance upon the Shogun. These “alternate attendance†(sankin kotai) processions, up to 4,000 strong in the case of the Maeda clan, had the effect of keeping the common people of Japan in awe of the warriors. “Alternate attendance†thus helped keep the peace, something that the Shogunate was so good at doing that there was no war for the 250 years of the Tokugawa reign. As the Pax Tokugawa continued on and on, however, the Shogun and his retainers became warriors who never went to war. The actual ability to fight thus became secondary to maintaining a fearsome image. As Herman Ooms puts it in his essay in Edo: Art in Japan, 1615-1868, form became norm, and image, more important than reality. It is just this process that transformed armor into Art. Armor in the late Tokugawa Period is all about image, a point quite clear in this helmet. The helmet purports to be covered with silk that parts to reveal rough steel plates held together with large, round rivets. In fact, the helmet is made entirely of a thin, light wood covered with a layer of lacquer and gilt.

  • Thumbnail for Two Sumo Wrestlers
    Two Sumo Wrestlers by Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)

    14 x 9 inches. Two sumo wrestlers, grappling in the ring.