Photo Credit: KnightArts.org
Samurai: Beyond the Sword is in its final weeks at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), on view through Sunday, June 1. The variety of swords, armor, helmets, paintings, ceramics and more that reveal the samurai’s nuanced culture will not likely been seen together again.
Many are familiar with the samurai as warriors, but these elite rulers were also required to be artists, scholars and patrons of the arts. The exhibition explores the balance they sought between military and cultural pursuits, focusing on the relatively peaceful Edo period (1603–1868).
Displaying the military side of the samurai are menacing suits of armor, helmets and masks, and meticulously crafted sword blades and fittings. Exquisitely painted scenes of nature and finely crafted tea ceremony objects, along with Noh theatre robes and masks, reveal the samurai’s aesthetic ideals.
Tickets are $16 for adults, $8 for ages 6–17, free for DIA members and $12 each for groups of 15+. Purchase at DIA Box Office, dia.org or 313-833-4005. A $3.50 charge applies to nonmember tickets not purchased at the DIA. Tickets are timed, and advance purchase is recommended.
Remaining programs related to Samurai: Beyond the Sword:
Saturday, May 17
Fashion Show: Beyond the Armor: Noon
Creations by 10 local designers will dazzle the runway in this unusual fashion show, which is the culmination of a competition hosted by the DIA and Detroit Garment Group Guild. The designers were challenged to create an outfit inspired by Samurai: Beyond the Sword, and the winner, chosen by public vote, will be announced at the fashion show. People can vote for their favorite at https://www.detroitgarmentgroup.org/.
Talk and Demonstration: The Medieval Art of Swordplay: 2 p.m.
Swords were a samurai’s most treasured possession, but the sword has also played an important role in other cultures throughout history. Witness the cutting edge of modern research on the combat arts of the Middle Ages with Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng, curator, Higgins Armory Museum, who will bring the martial skills of the medieval knight to life though a talk and live demonstration. He will discuss the knights’ skills with sword, lance, dagger and Warhammer. Sponsored by Visiting Committee for European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Ford Family Sunday, May 18
Artist Demonstration: Warrior Tea: 1 & 3 p.m.
Japanese tea artisans present a traditional warrior style tea ceremony, a ritual known to be the orthodox style of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867) and practiced by samurai during the Edo period.
Friday Night Live, May 30
Music: Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko: 7 p.m.
Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko will perform under the leadership of Master Etsuo Hongo in the DFT before the screening of the 2004 film The Twilight Samurai. Matsuri Taiko has become one of the premier taiko ensembles in the United States. Master Hongo studied traditional taiko drumming in his home country of Japan and founded LA Matsuri Taiko in 1977. Hongo’s style can be described as one with powerful sounds, various challenging technique, exciting movement and visual flair. Both the film and concert are free with museum admission.
Detroit Film Theatre: The Twilight Samurai: 9:30 p.m.
Seibei Iguchi is a low-ranking samurai living in 19th-century Japan, in the fading days of the feudal Shogun period. His wife has died of tuberculosis, and with two daughters and an elderly mother to support, he and his family must survive in austerity. But when news of his sword-fighting prowess gets out, the samurai code of honor causes him to embark on a last, dangerous mission. In Japanese with English subtitles. Free with museum admission.
This exhibition is organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts, based on the original exhibition Lethal Beauty, curated by Dr. Andreas Marks for the Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture, with tour organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.
In Detroit, Samurai: Beyond the Sword is generously supported by Toyota, DENSO International America, Inc., E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and Yazaki North America, Inc.
Hours and Admission
Museum hours are 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays–Thursdays, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. General admission (excludes ticketed exhibitions) is free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents and DIA members. For all others, $8 for adults, $6 for seniors ages 62+, $4 for ages 6–17. For membership information, call 313-833-7971.