Samurai At Leisure
Beginning in the 1100s, the warrior class gained authority and importance in Japan, holding political and military power across the country. In 1615, the samurai warrior Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616) won a decisive battle to unify Japan, ending a period of continuous warfare between feudal lords.
In the 250 years of peace that followed, the elite samurai class no longer waged battles, turning instead to cultural pursuits and leisurely pastimes. Hawking and falconry were popular activities, as were plant cultivation and the art of flower arrangement. The tea ceremony, too, was an important interest that nurtured collecting and connoisseurship practices.
Peace also brought about rapid urbanization and the development of a lively town culture with a broad variety of entertainments. Idle samurai enthusiastically embraced these offerings, indulging in theatrical performances and frequenting designated pleasure quarters in urban areas to enjoy musical performances, the company of courtesans, and the various spectacles on display.
RISD Museum is supported by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with the generous partnership of the Rhode Island School of Design, its Board of Trustees, and Museum Governors.