On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation concluded between the two monarchies Japan and Austria-Hungary in 1869, Weltmuseum Wien features a new exhibition from the collection of the daimyō family Hosokawa. The members of this elite clan of samurai warriors had served the shogun since the Muromachi period (1333–1568). The generals of the Hosokawa family not only went into battle for their shoguns but also assisted in the field of administration as military governors. Starting in the Edo period (1600–1868), the family was based in the Kumamoto domain.
Nevertheless, the name Hosokawa stands for much more than accomplishments in battle. It is also the name of famous poets, scholars and artists dedicating their attention to the Nō theatre and the tea ceremony. This tradition is still alive and well today. Hosokawa Morihiro, 18th Head of the Hosokawa family, held a number of political offices in the upper and lower house of Japan’s National Diet and served as the Prime Minister of Japan from 1993 to 1994. After his retirement from politics at the age of sixty, he switched to the world of arts to practice calligraphy and manufacture tea ceramics using different firing techniques.
The exhibition in three galleries is dedicated to the three central themes of family heritage:
- the showpiece of any samurai: armour, weapons and accessories
- appreciation of the Nō theatre and the tea ceremony
- art by the youngest members of the Hosokawa family
Weltmuseum Wien puts about 85 objects on display: aside from weapons, armour, screens, paintings and drawings, the exhibition will also feature porcelain, ceramics, lacquer work, Nō theatre masks, costumes etc.
As the Hosokawa clan attributes great importance to the preservation of tradition and grants public access to its collections in two Japanese museums, the Eisei Bunko Museum in Tokyo and a branch of the Hosokawa collection at the Eisei Bunko Gallery in Kumamoto, it is not surprising to find out that there is not a single object from the Hosokawa family in the collections of Weltmuseum Wien. Visitors are nonetheless able to encounter the name Hosokawa at Weltmuseum Wien. In the new gallery 1873 – Japan comes to Europe, two depictions from the series Biographies of 100 Generals – Hosokawa Yoriyuki (1329–1392) and Hosokawa Katsumoto (1430–1473) – illustrate the display case The Emergence of the Samurai. Pictures in a photo album from the collection of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este show Kumamoto Castle, the seat of the Hosokawa clan, before it was destroyed by a great fire in 1877 and a severe earthquake in 1889.
The family crest of the Hosokawa clan depicts nine planets or stars and comprises a central circle surrounded by eight smaller circles.
The Eisei Bunko Museum, Tokyo and the Hosokawa Collection are the cooperation partners in this exhibition.