I visited the special exhibition, ‘THE HEROES – Chronicles of the Warriors: Japanese Swords x Ukiyo-e from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’, currently being held at the Mori Arts Center Gallery in Roppongi Hills. It was very interesting to learn about Japanese heroes through the displays of Ukiyo-e and swords. I also experienced the Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM, where you can encounter various aspects of Japanese culture online, which I will share some highlights of!
※The Tokyo and Niigata display for THE HEROES – Chronicles of the Warriors: Japanese Swords x Ukiyo-e is now finished. Currently displayed at the Shizuoka and Hyogo venues.
THE HEROES exhibition features swords and Musha-e carefully selected from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Musha-e are a form of ukiyo-e woodblock prints depicting heroic warriors who were popular among the common people during the Edo period (1603-1868). We were greeted by a large panel of prints at the entrance, which conveyed a sense of awe. It’s exciting to be able to see all the priceless exhibits!
The spacious exhibition area showcases colorful ukiyo-e prints and swords which related to the story depicted in ukiyo-e. In contrast to the bright red and yellow walls, there was a sense of solemnness. The walls were decorated with cut-out designs of figures from ukiyo-e, which were also impactful!
At the exhibit space for Japanese swords from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, various historically valuable swords are on display. They include the ‘Katana’ (made by Mitsutada in Kamakura period, 13th century), which is the first time to be exhibited in Japan. I’ve never seen Japanese swords this close-up before, and I was overwhelmed by the luminance and the beauty of this object that was made hundreds of years ago.
THE HEROES exhibition features 118 pieces of Musha-e which have been selected from the approximately 50,000 ukiyo-e prints in the MFA collection. All of them are being displayed for the first time in Japan. There were several stories depicted that I recognized, such as the famous warrior, Ushiwakamaru, with the warrior monk Benkei. It is a miracle that the vivid colors remain since the Edo period. It shows that these artworks have been loved and cherished for a long time.
This scabbard is called, ‘Kin-nashi-ji Kamon Chirashi Itomaki-tachigoshirae’, and it’s from the Edo period (17th century). The decoration of the scabbard is very beautiful, and I felt the sense of craftsmanship of the time. I hear that in Japan more and more women are getting into the world of swords these days, and I can understand how they get attracted to it when you see how strong swords are as well as how delicate the decoration is. Each single sword is unique and is a sight to behold.
I was able to see precious swords and ukiyo-e prints in person and feel the depth of Japanese history and culture. If you want to learn even more about the various cultures of Japan, then I would recommend the Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM. You can experience various aspects of the beauty of Japan through art exhibitions, performances, nature, art festivals, and much more, in the world of the Metaverse!
At the Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM, you can choose your own avatar and enjoy various aspects of Japanese culture exhibited in a virtual space. The avatars can perform actions such as ‘like’ and ‘clap’ with a touch of a button, which is kind of cute. I was able to zoom in on the kimonos so that I could even see the single threads, and watch videos, allowing me to fully enjoy the appeal of the virtual world. There are advantages of both real and virtual. Anyone can easily join via PC or smartphone, so I hope you all get a chance to try it out!
Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM has been launched. This platform combines “real” experiences at physical venues and “virtual” experiences through online digital content, promoting these within Japan and beyond.
Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM allows you to experience its art exhibitions, performing arts, nature, and art festivals in the virtual world, utilizing video, VR, and images.