Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nagoya Hideyoshi Kiyomasa Memorial Museum

Today I visited Nakamura ward in Nagoya, the homeland of two outstanding samurai in our history, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his younger relative, Kato Kiyomasa.
 I take a great pride that Hideyoshi and Kiyomasa came from this area of poor farmers in those days.

We have a small but very good museum in honor of these two important warriors from Nakamura ward, who lived almost 400 years ago.
Of all the items here, such as hanging scrolls of paintings, letters, armours, helmets and many other important belongings, especially I got interested int two “helmets.”  A helmet is “kabuto” in Japanese.

Hideyoshi’s “kabuto" is so elegant and decorative. It is made of many plates of steel. They say that long sword-like plates depict leaves of iris flowers.

Another “kabuto”  belonged to Kato Kiyomasa. Its shape is unusually long compared with what we know as “kabuto” in general. 
The length is not practical when considering that “kabuto” should protect a warrior from arrows, spears, swords and guns.
On Kiyomasa’ “kabuto”, pieces of lacquered paper are attached in layers. The family crests are designed with leaves of gold. When complete, it didn’t weigh much.

 Why then did he put on an unpractical “kabuto”?  

 It is said that Kiyomasa liked the idea that the eye-catching "kabuto" of a successful warrior ensured that his fighting with an enemy soldier was noticed in battle.

That way a warrior could get a reward from his master such as his title or his own territory.

 For a top warlord such as Hideyoshi, the showy “kabuto” along with a suit of armour added more significance for dignity and power to his followers. 
Even foot soldiers in the troop could tell where their master was in a battlefield and could crowd around him in case of danger.

Later, when the whole society got more peaceful in Edo period, the samurai class preferred to maintain their military armour as their family symbols.

Due to skillful craftsmanship of those days, Japanese “kabuto” and armour have become art objects not only for Japanese but also many collectors from abroad.


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