Japan's samurai were professional soldiers, but they could also be cultivated artists, writers and philosophers. "Samurai" means "he who serves," and these fierce warriors acted in the service of powerful feudal lords known as daimyo ("great name"). Among the most important daimyo families were members of the Hosokawa clan, whose lineage dates back some six hundred years.
Lords of the Samurai brings to life the code of the samurai and the private and public lives of the daimyo by focusing on approximately 160 works from the Hosokawa family collection housed in the Eisei-Bunko Museum in Tokyo, the Kumamoto Castle and the Kumamoto Municipal Museum in Kyushu. Japanese historical objects discussed include suits of armor, armaments (including swords and guns), formal attire, calligraphy, paintings, tea ware, lacquer ware, masks, and musical instruments.
To the daimyo, martial arts were not just a physical or military activity—they were part of a spiritual and ethical program that governed every aspect of their existence. Featuring an extended essay by Thomas Cleary, Lords of the Samurai lays bare the principles that governed the spirit of the samurai, enabling it to endure for hundreds of years and continue to resonate today.
About the Author:
Yoko Woodson's books include Hokusai and Hiroshige: Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection and Honolulu Academy of Arts and Zen: Painting and Calligraphy, 17th-20th centuries. She is curator of Japanese art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
Preface by Morihiro Hosokawa, the former prime minister of Japan. He is also a widely exhibited potter and special consultant to the Japan Times.
Thomas Cleary's many books and translations include Opening the Dragon Gate by Chen Kaiguo and Zhen Shunchao, The Story of Chinese Zen by Nan Huai-Chin and The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, as well as Code of the Samurai and Soul of the Samurai.