Bushido, ‘the way of the warrior,’ is the code that samurai were expected to live by. Loyalty and honour were most cherished, followed by martial bravery – a freedom from fear.

Training for a boy of the samurai class began early and at 10 he would learn fencing, archery, riding, as well as calligraphy, ethics, literature, and history.

The balance between warrior and artist was extremely important in samurai practice. It was also expected that many samurai would die young and so should be prepared and unafraid for such an event; when he was able to overcome his fear of an early death, he then mastered the way of the samurai. Any samurai condemned to death had the right to kill himself rather than suffer the shame of being killed by a commoner, and so samurai were trained to commit seppuku - ritual suicide.

At 15 a samurai was considered an adult, receiving his first real sword and cutting his hair in the traditional samurai fashion with the hair pulled back into a ponytail.

Bushido, ‘the way of the warrior,’ is the code that samurai were expected to live by. Loyalty and honour were most cherished, followed by martial bravery – a freedom from fear.

Training for a boy of the samurai class began early and at 10 he would learn fencing, archery, riding, as well as calligraphy, ethics, literature, and history.

The balance between warrior and artist was extremely important in samurai practice. It was also expected that many samurai would die young and so should be prepared and unafraid for such an event; when he was able to overcome his fear of an early death, he then mastered the way of the samurai. Any samurai condemned to death had the right to kill himself rather than suffer the shame of being killed by a commoner, and so samurai were trained to commit seppuku - ritual suicide.

At 15 a samurai was considered an adult, receiving his first real sword and cutting his hair in the traditional samurai fashion with the hair pulled back into a ponytail.

© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.

A bronzed figure of a samurai archer poised with his bow and arrow raised (arrow missing).

Long bows could be 2.5m in length & were made of a wooden strip between 2 bamboo strips joined by fish glue then lacquered. Arrow heads varied in shape, including some for ceremonial use.

Unknown
Gift of Mrs. John Windsor
20th Century
JAPAN
AGGV 1998.014.001
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


Woodcut print (coloured inks) depicting a kabuki actor committing seppuku or ritual suicide.

Seppuku, also called hara-kiri, both mean ‘belly cutting.’ A samurai’s sense of honour preferred death to capture and if defeated or outnumbered he would perform seppuku, keeping his honour in tact.

Toyohara Kunichika
Gift of Barry Till
19th Century
JAPAN
AGGV 2004.017.001
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


A woodcut print of a sumo wrestler wearing a long fringed apron.

Sumo wrestling originally took place at temples as part of religious festivals; this form of wrestling involved two enormous men attempting to push or lift each other out of the ring.

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)
Gift of Margaret G. Norman
18th/19th Century
JAPAN
AGGV 1997.020.002
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


Sumo wrestling, Japan’s national sport, is still popular today – three major tournaments are held at this arena each year

Sumo wrestling, Japan’s national sport, has been practiced for centuries and still enjoys much popularity today. Six major tournaments are held for 15 days each year in Japan, three of which take place at this arena in January, May, and September.

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
c. 1997
Tokyo, JAPAN
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The following learning objectives have been created with considerable and specific reference to the Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) for various grades and subjects as outlined by the Ministry of Education for the province of British Columbia. The portions that directly reflect curricula language have been italicized. All applicable texts, websites, and other learning resources are listed in the bibliography under References.

• Students will be introduced to a variety of martial arts philosophies and realize that these values, such as loyalty and honour, are still highly respected in contemporary Japanese society; as such, students will learn about the similarities and differences within and across cultures over time.
• Students will relate to the training of young Samurai and see how this relates to present-day Japanese children (rigorous academic study) as well as compare some cultural elements of Japan to those of their own cultural backgrounds.
• Students will learn some Japanese vocabulary (e.g. bushido, sumo, kyudo).


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