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Virtual Exhibition

Brush up on your Bushido at the Samurai Museum

In May 2022, the Samurai Museum reopened its doors in Mitte, sporting a brand new exhibition. Here's what to expect - and what not to do!

Sylwia Makris: Yu (Courage) Woman, from the series “The 7 Virtues” © Sylwia Makris

Did you know that Berlin is home to the biggest samurai collection outside of Japan – the only one of its kind in Europe? Since May, the Samurai Museum, which opened its doors in 2017, has relocated from Dahlem to Mitte’s Auguststraße 68, an address known to art lovers for housing the Me Collectors Room Berlin for a full decade until it closed two years ago.

In true Berlin style, the Samurai Museum started with a flea-market find: in 1985, owner Peter Janssen spotted a samurai sword at a Flohmarkt on Straße des 17. Juni, that would become the first of a 4000-piece collection. Today the brand new Samurai Museum exhibits 1000 of Janssen’s treasures in a new virtual-reality display.

With tablets at each station, the museum delivers a bushidō experience fit for the digital age: touchscreens, zoomable images, maps and a cinematic installations teach visitors all about the extravagantly-adorned warriors as well as the history of Japanese battles, bushidō wisdom and myths.

Did you know the samurai’s signature weapon wasn’t a sword but a bow, called a yumi? Or that they were mostly vegetarians? You’ll also learn about geishas, tea ceremonies, sword forging, calligraphy and a head-spinning array of facts about Japanese culture over the centuries.

A word of advice: the virtual reality bits of the museum are impressively responsive; hovering over or stepping into a sensor is enough to play a video, turn on a spotlight or set off some other surprise element. But so are the laser barriers which protect the precious installations from visitors’ dirty little fingers. If you don’t want to activate the deafening alarm system, best keep your hands to yourself!