Cool Japan exhibit: warriors and monsters (part 2)

After admiring the beautiful figurines at the entrance, I walked into a dark room and I saw this samurai in fighting stance. The ethereal blue light made it seem like it was emitting fighting spirit. It almost made me want to take out my light saber and take on his challenge to battle it out.       

Museum volkenkunde leiden Netherlands Cool Japan exhibit warriors

Although I am totally against aggression and violence, I admire the ways of the samurai. You are 100% loyal to your comrades and the lord that you are serving. You battle with enemies with a similar strength (you don't pick on the weak) to hone your skills and you only fight in the name of justice. You are humble and although you are strong, you show benevolence to even your worst enemies.

Museum volkenkunde leiden Netherlands Cool Japan exhibit samurai

Japan is also the country, where the body suit tattoo with mythical creatures and many intricate details originated. It was a sign of courage (as it was strictly forbidden and you needed to get it at underground tattoo parlors), of being an outlaw (only criminals gets tattoos), and of a "don't mess with me" attitude, inciting both admiration and fear.
 Museum volkenkunde leiden Netherlands Cool Japan exhibit tattoo


At the exhibit, you can also find the three paneled artwork picturing the female heroes of Ancient Japan, named Yamato yufu kagami by Utagawa Kunisada (not pictured here, but you can find a clear picture of it on the website of the Museum Volkenkunde). At the upper right part, Tomoe Gozen is pictured, who was a famous female warrior. In those times, no matter if you are a guy who is weak, poor, and not really skilled in fighting like Hideyoshi, or a woman like Tomoe Gozen, as long as you can win your battles, you can reach the highest ranks. Everybody gets a chance to prove yourself.   

I didn't hear those empowering, underdog stories as a kid, but I did grew up with cool female role models and it was from the Japanese manga and cartoon, Sailor moon. I really have to thank the creator, Takeuchi Naoko, for teaching me that you can be pretty and still kick ass. At the exhibit, you can find original sketches and animation cells and some related merchandise.

Museum volkenkunde leiden Netherlands Cool Japan exhibit Sailor moon

This part is a bit easy to miss if you don't look carefully, but you can access the top part of this room, which is dedicated to Japanese monsters and horror stories, by taking the seemingly normal stairs on the right, passing the glass doors. I don't want to ruin the fun for you, so I won't tell you anything about the creepy surprises that awaits you. 


What I can say is that they did quite a good job, creating an scary vibe. The red lights contrasted with the blue lights projected on the samurai and you constantly feel that you are standing on a high place, while walking around (I have a fear of heights!). This is also the place where you can find the original digital sketches of Leviathan, a water dragon from the game Final Fantasy XV.  

Museum volkenkunde leiden Netherlands Cool Japan exhibit monsters



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Part 2 - Cool  Japan exhibit: warriors and monsters