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Exhibition on Japanese Martial Arts Opens in Kingston

An image of a samurai looks on as a visitor explores the Spirit of Budo exhibit

The word budō, is hardly known in Jamaica, but the Japanese martial arts to which it refers has fascinated Jamaicans for decades. The travelling exhibition The Spirit of Budō: The History of Japan’s Martial Arts opened at the Water Lane gallery at the Institute of Jamaica in downtown Kingston on Saturday afternoon. With the popularity of Japanese martial arts in Jamaican popular culture, Spirit of Budō should make a welcome addition to the exhibitions currently being staged by the National Museum Jamaica.

The exhibition wends its way to Jamaica as a part of a global tour. Director of National Museum Jamaica, Dr. Jonathan Greenland, pointed out that the exhibition has visited Burkina Faso and Paraguay and will be moving on to Canada when it departs Jamaica in mid-March. 

Ambassador Masanoki NakanoThe Spirit of Budō exhibition includes clips from films, photographs, video demonstrations, paintings as well as replicas and original weaponry and armor from different stages and styles of Japanese martial arts. The exhibition explores the history as well as the development into sports and manifestation in popular culture.

One element which Greenland expressed was attempted but due to space constraints was not executed, was an exploration of the influence of Japanese martial culture on Jamaican popular culture. 

Many Jamaicans don't know the word budo, but Japanese martial arts are popular on the island

“This exhibition really brings out a range of perspectives on Japanese culture,” Greenland said. 

A similar sentiment was expressed by Ambassador Masanori Nakano in his brief address. 

“Even though Jamaica and Japan are many miles apart we share this passion,” Ambassador Nakano said. He noted that the mutual passion for Japanese martial arts between Jamaicans and the Japanese is a conduit through which we can learn more about each other’s culture. 

The Spirit of Budō was presented to the NMJ by the Japan Foundation through the Embassy of Japan to Jamaica. 

In addition to the exhibition, the opening also featured demonstrations of martial arts. The Spirit of Budō continues through to March 17, 2017. The National Museum Jamaica, is a division of the Institute of Jamaica.