SHOGUN: The life of Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu

This exhibition has now closed. Some of the objects featured in it are on permanent display in the Oriental Gallery in Leeds or at the Tower of London in the White Tower.

6 June 2005 – 30 August 2005

For four centuries Japan has guarded the treasures belonging to its greatest statesman and Shogun, Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu ruled over a single nation forged from hundreds of rival factions. He made a series of audacious alliances and fought one of the most extraordinary battles in history. His life heralded a period of peace that lasted more than two centuries. Shogun Tokugawa created modern Japan, founding its capital and its political culture, influencing its literature and art. He was made a god, and is honoured today as he was at the height of his power.

In an unprecedented partnership with the Japanese World Heritage Site, the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, eighty breathtaking objects – screens, costumes, weapons, armour, art, scrolls, furniture – are leaving their sacred shrines for the first time. Their destination, for three months only, is the award-winning Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. The exhibition will rank as one of the most important displays of Japanese heritage and culture ever to be seen within the United Kingdom.

The exhibition will be supported by a busy schedule of events and activities which will bring to life Japan, its art, culture and traditions. There will be a dedicated outreach and education programme, as well as diverse activities such as Yabusame (Japanese archery on horseback), Kobudo and Kendo (martial arts), Japanese tea ceremonies, calligraphy, swordsmanship, origami and Tanka poetry workshops.

Did you know?

American gifts re-open Japan in 1853

15 rifles, 3 muskets, 12 cavalry swords, 20 army pistols, 2 carbines, 2 telegraph instruments, a model steam locomotive and tender, 4 volumes of John James Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’, and 1 barrel of whiskey for the Emperor and much more!