Yesterday we delved into the fascinating world of the Japanese martial art Aikido, which is based on many humane values. Just like Japanese culture itself. Honor, loyalty, spirituality, and traditions have always played an essential role in the history of Japan. When we think about the history of the country, we immediately think of the lavishly decorated warriors who served their emperor, shogun, and daimyō, the samurai.
THE SAMURAI AND THE KATANA
The trademark of these noble, if brutal, warriors was, of course, their katana. This beautiful sword was more than a weapon. It was the soul of the samurai. Each of these warriors was taught the art of wielding a sword. We can still find many elements of this training today in Kendō (Ken = sword, Do = path).
Just like in Aikido, Kendō is not just about the actual technique. Moreover, it’s also about spiritual training, which includes character strength, determination, and moral strength.
KYŌTO · EDO · TOKYO
The former center of power where the emperor resided was Kyōto. Only later did the city of Edo gain importance, giving its name to one of the most important periods in Japanese history.
The Edo Period is one of the longest periods of peace in Japanese history. Later, more precisely in 1868, Edo got a new name, which can be translated as “eastern capital” or “imperial residential city in the east”. Today, you know it as the metropolis of Tokyo.
THE SAMURAI MUSEUM
We can find out more about this fascinating time of samurai and shoguns at the Samurai Museum Berlin. Curated by the Peter Janssen Collection, this museum is a treasure trove of over 1,000 authentic historical artifacts, offering an immersive experience that combines traditional craftsmanship with state-of-the-art media technology.
Driven by Peter Janssen’s passion for martial arts and Japanese culture, the museum’s collection spans from the late Kofun to the early Meiji period, showcasing the evolution of Japanese culture and craftsmanship. From weapons and armor to textiles, paintings, and tea utensils, the collection provides a comprehensive view of samurai life.
Within the 1,500 square meters of the museum, visitors encounter a variety of exhibits, from magnificent armor and superb swords to mysterious masks and decorative sword fittings. The museum doesn’t merely showcase the artifacts but provides an interactive journey, featuring touchscreens, projections, and gigapixel images that reveal intricate details of Japanese craftsmanship.
The house not only provides an impressive glimpse into the world of the Samurai. Moreover, it also establishes a fascinating connection to Aikido. This association not only unveils the warrior elegance of the Samurai but also emphasizes the timeless relevance of the values of Aikido.
Because the Samurai Museum is also not about war or fights, but about culture and spirituality, the cornerstones of Japanese society at that time, and much more.
THE SAMURAI’S CULTURE AND EVERYDAY LIFE
Therefore, the museum embraces a holistic approach, exploring not only the historical aspects of samurai life but also their influence on contemporary culture. Temporary exhibitions bridge the gap between past and present, highlighting the enduring impact of the samurai both in and outside Japan.
HISTORY AND INTERACTIVITY
Interactive installations, including 3D models, holographic installations, and guided tours, make the distant era of the samurai accessible to visitors of all ages. A spacious Noh theatre and a tea house on the second floor, built in Japan and erected in Berlin, offer authentic insights into the cultural influences of the samurai through realistic projections and traditional performances.
A SAMURAI AS INSPIRATION FOR STAR WARS
The armor of the “One-Eyed Dragon of Ōshū”, Date Masamune, should also be exciting for young and old. Ōshū was a province in what is now the Fukushima region. And, Date Masamune remains one of the most influential and popular daimyō to this day.
Besides, there are rumors that his armor inspired George Lucas to create Darth Vader’s look. Elements of the samurai’s sword skills and their clothes can also be found in Star Wars. In the Samurai Museum, you can actively admire Date Masamune’s impressive armor from all sides.
The continuous growth of the collection led to its relocation to Auguststraße 68, in the heart of Berlin, offering a contemporary museum presentation and multimedia staging that brings the samurai’s legacy to life.
Text: Marco Kokkot and Dena Behadori