L’arc et le sabre – Imaginaire guerrier du Japon au musée Guimet

The bow and the sword - Japan’s imaginary world of the warrior

From March 16 to 29 August 2022, the National Museum of Asian Arts (the Guimet Museum) and the “The Bow and the Sword” exhibition take you on a journey in the footsteps of the samurai, symbols of power and loyalty and an inexhaustible source of fascination...

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A source of fascination for more than a century and a half, the samurai is now part of the collective imagination.

A brave warrior, upright and loyal, with sword (katana) in hand, heavy armour and a menacing mask. Proud and skilful in combat, a man of honour with a proud, aristocratic bearing. His figure, his history, and above all his myth, which is inextricably linked with feudal Japan, have helped to make this character one of Japan’s historical emblems.

But who was he really? A fascinating character, he continues to fuel stories and legends.

The Samurai, a legendary warrior

The exhibition presented at the National Museum of Asian Arts (the Guimet Museum) retraces the multiple facets of this unusual character, sometimes fantasised, sometimes parodied, highlighting the revival of the image of the Japanese warrior in popular culture and illustrating how the samurai is perceived in modern Japan and in the West.

Consisting of prints preserved in the museum, pieces of armour, photographs and exceptional pieces of art, it demonstrates the richness of the representation of the samurai as well as the diversity and complexity of their status throughout the history of Japan. The exhibition tells the story of this fascinating character who, with the pacification of the Edo period (1603-1868), gradually lost his military function and instead contributed to the emergence of a new intellectual elite in which he embodied the values of loyalty, honour, courage and righteousness codified at that time in bushido (“the way of the warrior”), and portrayed in numerous literary and artistic works, particularly in theatre.

The image of the samurai in contemporary culture

A symbol of power and loyalty, nowadays the samurai is part of pop culture. This historical warrior with his complex armour, mastering all sorts of combat techniques, has been an inexhaustible iconographic source for contemporary artists, from manga comics to movies, video games and animated films populated by characters with supernatural powers and superheroes.

The Land of the Rising Sun can also be explored at the Maison de la culture du Japon in Paris, just a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower. Fans of manga and Japanese culture will gather in the north of Paris for the new edition of the Japan Expo festival which takes place from 14 to 17 July 2022 in Paris-Nord Villepinte.

All the exhibitions in the Paris Region.

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Community facilities

Access and contact

6 place d'Iéna
75116 Paris 16ème

Days and opening hours

From 1603 to 29/08/2022 between 10 am and 6 pm except on May 1st. Closed on Tuesday.


  • Full price: 11.50 € (Combined ticket (permanent collections and temporary exhibitions)), Reduced price: 8.50 € (Combined ticket (permanent collections and temporary exhibitions)).
    Free entry for children < 18 years.
    Every first Sunday of the month, access to the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions is free.


Spoken languages

  • French
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