It's time to take a field trip Athens, GA. This particular trip is going to take us all the way back to the Age of the Samurai. From 1185 to 1868, Samurais ruled supreme over Japan and there was nothing in their way of spreading their leadership worldwide.

Recently, the Georgia Museum of Art has received their newest exhibit, "Samurai: The Way of the Warrior." This particular exhibit contains pieces from the world renowned Stibbert Museum in Florence, Italy. The exhibit features about 100 various pieces from the Samurai era including authentic full body armor, swords, saddles, and other objects that Samurais used in their everyday life.

This exhibit has traveled around the country and was recently on display at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL. Now Athens, GA can experience the exhibit for themselves. An added bonus of having this exhibit in Athens is that the GMOA is the only location featuring this exhibit that is offering it for free. Most other museums have charged an extra fee, on top of entrance to the museum just to set foot into this exhibition.

This exhibit is a perfect way to get all of your family and friends to take a trip over to the museum because it features a variety of different artifacts. For those who would not normally be the first to attend an art exhibit, the samurai exhibit features armor, swords and detailed stories of the battles that the samurais faced during their time in power. For those who appreciate the finer things of the time period, each item in the samurai exhibit is detailed beyond anything you can imagine. Even each helmet was purposely designed for the personality of the individual set to wear it.

I got to take a tour for myself and to say that I was astounded would be an understatement. Everywhere I looked, there was another piece that further painted a picture of what it would be like to live under the rule of the Samurai. I liked to imagine what my helmet would look like and the designs that would surround my sword if I was lucky enough to fight alongside the Samurais. After leaving the exhibit, I had a full picture of the Samurai lifestyle and wished that I could have gone back to that time to experience it for myself. The exhibit sparked my curiosity and led me to uncover more, leading to these additional:


Fun Facts About Samurais


  1. Women were trained in the same martial arts style of their male Samurai counterparts. However, these women were called Onna-Bugeisha instead of samurais. Another difference is that, while some used swords, their preferred weapon was called a naginata. This was a spear with a sword shaped blade at the end of it. It was made to be versatile, but also relatively light. 
  2. Samurais gave their swords names because they believed that their swords contained warrior spirits. 
  3. According to history, there are four known Western men who had the honor to join the Samurai despite not being native to Japan. This was one of the greatest honors that could be bestowed on a man and it could only be given by a powerful leader. These men were given swords, Samurai armor and even a new Japanese name.
  4. Homosexuality was widespread and accepted during this time period.
  5. Popular belief is that the Samurai were a small group of elite fighters or a very small army. However, the Samurai actually made up an entire social class. Their force was made of large numbers which is why they were able to be so powerful.
  6. Samurai tested their swords on the bodies of the enemies they killed.
  7. Samurais were the trend setters of their time period. Everyone in the other social classes wanted to look like them and be like them. The topknot hairstyle was the most distinctive trend of that period. With the exception of Buddist monks, everyone wore the topknot to look like a samurai.
  8. The Darth Vader costume in Star Wars was inspired by the traditional Samurai uniform.
Sources: Piosuo, Pauli. "10 Fascinating Facts About the Samurai." Listverse. N.p., 6 Aug. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
"5 Interesting Facts About Japanese Samurai Warriors." Culture Town. N.p., 28 Oct. 2012. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.                         


Upcoming Events Surrounding the Samurai Exhibit


Thursday, November 12

Lecture by William Fleming (5:30 - 6:00 PM): "American Samurai: A Teenager's Journey from New England to the Satsuma Rebellion."  

Student Night (6:30 - 8:30 PM): Join the Student Association of the Georgia Museum of Art for a night of music, food, fun and themed activities to celebrate the latest exhibitions. Student Night is generously sponsored by UGA Parents and Families Association.

Kendo Demonstration (7:00 - 7:30 PM): In celebration of “Samurai: The Way of the Warrior,” student organization Kendo at UGA will provide a demonstration of this modern Japanese martial art. 

Samurai Film Series (7:30 - 10:30 PM): "The Hidden Fortress."


Saturday, November 14

Family Day: The Way of the Warrior (10:00 AM - 12:00 PM): View beautiful samurai suits of armor, helmets, swords, saddles and more in the exhibition “Samurai: The Way of the Warrior,” then create your very own kabuto helmet in the Michael and Mary Erlanger Studio Classroom.


Wednesday, November 18

Tour at Two: "Samurai: The Way of the Warrior" (2:00 - 3:00 PM): Join Lynn Boland, Pierre Daura Curator of European Art, for a tour of the exhibition.

More special affiliated events may be found on our events calendar.

When to Go

The exhibit is on display through January 3, 2016.  The Georgia Museum of Art is located on the UGA Campus. Galleries are open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 10 AM.–5 PM; Thursday, 10 AM–9 PM; Sunday, 1–5 PM. Closed on Mondays.