Participation in symposium simultaneously held with “Art of the Samurai” exhibition

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The exhibition “Art of the Samurai — Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868”
The exhibition “Art of the Samurai — Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868”
Suzuki Norio giving a presentation.

 The exhibition “Art of the Samurai — Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868” was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (referred to as “Met” hereafter) in the United States from October 21, 2009 to January 10, 2010. Masterpieces of Japanese arms and armor from ancient times to the modern age were exhibited. The exhibition proved very popular not only with people from the US but also with people from countries all over the world, and no less than 300,000 people visited the exhibition during these three months. This exhibition also displayed swords, armors, saddles, quivers, and other pieces owned by the Met that were restored in the “Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas,” conducted by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. At the symposium held under the title “The Sunday at the Met” (November 8, 2009), which was related to the restoration of Japanese cultural properties, we had some presentations as follows. Mr. Ogawa Morihiro from the Met, responsible for the exhibition, explained the exhibition and the handling of swords, and Mr. Victor Harris, the former Keeper at the Department of Japanese Antiquities at the British Museum in the UK, gave a presentation on Japanese swords and their beauty. Mr. Fujishiro Okisato and his son Tatsuya, Japanese sword polishers, demonstrated how to polish a Japanese sword and gave some explanations. In addition, I presented an overview of efforts to conserve Japanese works of art in foreign collections and the philosophy and principles of restoring Urushi art objects in Japan. Over 700 people participated in this symposium, not only from the US but also from countries all over the world, which greatly surprised those connected with holding the exhibition — it was the first time such an enormous number of people had come to the Met since its founding. On the following day, a program called “The Scholars’ Day” (November 9) was held in the exhibition hall. It targeted restoration specialists and curators all over the US, and similar presentations were made. These days there is concern that the amount of research being done in the US on Japanese art and culture is falling, and that Japan’s presence in this respect is dwindling. So I feel this exhibition at the Met was revolutionary as an attempt to stimulate and develop such research. I pay my heartfelt respects and gratitude to Mr. Ogawa Morihiro, the special consultant on Japanese arms and armor at the Met, who spent over 10 years planning and executing this exhibition, and made enormous contributions to international exchange and the spread of Japanese culture and art, and to the Met.

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