Please find below some photos of Japanese swords, fittings and armour from various museums in the UK. These were taken in December 2012.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A) is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. It was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The V&A is located on Cromwell Road in the Brompton district of Kensington.

The V&A covers 12.5 acres (51,000 m2) and features 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. The holdings of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world. The museum owns the world’s largest collection of post-classical sculpture, with the holdings of Italian Renaissance items being the largest outside Italy. The departments of Asia include art from South Asia, China, Japan, Korea and the Islamic world. The East Asian collections are among the best in Europe, with particular strengths in ceramics and metalwork, while the Islamic collection is amongst the largest in the Western world.

The V&A’s collection of Japanese art and design is one of the largest in Britain. It includes ceramics, lacquer, arms and armour, woodwork, metalwork, textiles and dress, prints, paintings and sculpture.

Please visit http://www.vam.ac.uk for more information about the museum.

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The British Museum, London

The British Museum is dedicated to human history and culture.  Its permanent collection, numbering some 8 million works, is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence and originates from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.

The museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The museum first opened to the public on 15 January 1759 in Montagu House in Bloomsbury, on the site of the current museum building.  Its expansion over the following two and a half centuries was largely a result of an expanding British colonial footprint and has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the first being the British Museum (Natural History) in South Kensington in 1887. Some objects in the collection, most notably the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, are the objects of controversy and of calls for restitution to their countries of origin.

The Japanese collection is located in rooms 92-94 and a large number of objects are on display from Ancient Japan (5000 BC) right through to modern day.

More information can be found here – https://www.britishmuseum.org.

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Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

Pitt Rivers is a museum displaying the archaeological and anthropological collections of the University of Oxford.  The museum was founded in 1884 by Lt-General Augustus Pitt Rivers, who donated his collection to the University of Oxford with the condition that a permanent lecturer in anthropology be appointed. Museum staff are involved in teaching Archaeology and Anthropology at the University even today.

The museum features a treasure trove of objects from many different cultures.  Items are crammed into glass cabinets at every turn. Unfortunately the lighting is quite bad and therefore the photos aren’t the best.  (This could also be my poor photography skills!).  The collection of Japanese armour is very comprehensive, however the swords and fittings are of lower quality.  One of the highlights for me is the full gusoko set of armour that features on page 6 of Ian Bottomley and Anthony Hopson’s book “Arms and Armour of the Samurai” (see photos below).

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