The Spirit of Budo: Japanese Exhibition in Kingston

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The Spirit of Budo is a traveling Japanese martial arts exhibition, put on by the Japan Foundation. It has been shown in 36 countries globally: from Morocco, France, Germany and Brazil, to name a few. I’m happy to see it reach Jamaican shores, the second Caribbean island in which it has been showcased since its debut by the foundation a decade ago. I don’t know much about Japanese or Asian culture really, but I welcome learning of other cultures, especially when that country takes the time, effort and money to carry expensive authentic relics and replicas to a museum near me. It is on display in Kingston from January 10 to March 18, 2017 at the National Museum of Jamaica (NMJ). Do pay a visit if you can.

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Display at the Spirit of Budo Exhibition

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Getting There

Google Maps is rather helpful in finding the Institute of Jamaica, walking distance from Parade in Downtown where the JUTC buses load. A contribution of JM$400 per person is required to see the exhibit. That is paid to a cashier at the Institute of Jamaica, an umbrella group responsible for the National Museum, National History Museum, African Caribbean Institute, National Gallery, Liberty Hall and Music Museum of Jamaica. In other words, go to the Institute of Jamaica first, pay and collect your receipt. Take it with you 3 blocks down to the National Museum of Jamaica, where you’ll be welcomed to the exhibit after showing your receipt by the security post. The National Library and National History Museum of Jamaica lie between the 2 buildings you need.

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Bamboo Arrows
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Illustrated scroll on swords
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Strange helmet (kawari kabuto) bent headgear for a court noble
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Strange helmet (kawari kabuto) cow horns

The Spirit of Budo: History of Japan’s Martial Arts Exhibit

From the doorway screens, Japanese cultural immersion begins. Japanese swords of the finest craftsmanship, bows, arrows, helmets and training gear are artfully displayed to capture maximum effect of soft lighting. The sights and sounds of another civilization in a bygone era was mesmerizing.

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Strange helmet (kawari kabuto) bundle of reeds

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The Spirit of Budo catalogue has pictures of each artifact, which you can obtain at the security desk. Additional facts are displayed on signs beside each stand. I’d say their effort in informing visitors of Japanese martial art history is a success.

National Museum of Jamaica

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Taino Room at the National Museum of Jamaica

While you’re there, pay a visit to the museum’s own display in a side-exhibition room. There was a Taino display on the 27th of January when I went. It’s always good to honour our island’s first inhabitants. Did you know Taino legacy still lives on in the Caribbean? They weren’t entirely wiped out from genocide nor as placid as our history books wrote them to be. I’m looking forward to the future of West Indian history books as they become rewritten by the oppressed to share their perspective.

The displays at this museum are always changing and new visiting exhibits occur several times a year. Thus, it’s always a good time to visit the National Museum of Jamaica!

‘Til next time! ✌


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