Anton Schweizer, Professor of Practice and Director of Asian Studies at Tulane University, has authored a new book, Ōsaki Hachiman: Architecture, Materiality, and Samurai Power in Seventeenth-Century Japan. Ōsaki Hachiman (1607), a Shintō shrine located in Sendai, Japan, is one of only a handful of surviving buildings from the Momoyama period (1568-1615). The shrine is a rare example of “lacquered architecture”—an architectural type characterized by a shiny, black coat made of refined tree sap and evocative of transitory splendor and cyclical renewal.
The building’s sponsor, the warlord Date Masamune, was one of the last independent feudal lords of his time and remains famous for dispatching a diplomatic mission to Mexico, Spain, and Rome. Although his ambitions to become a ruler of Northern Japan were frustrated, his shrine stands as a lasting testament to the political struggles he faced, his global aspirations, and the cultural cloak by which he sought to advance these objectives.
Ōsaki Hachiman: Architecture, Materiality, and Samurai Power in Seventeenth-Century Japan (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 2016) is available from the following booksellers:
(in the US) Michael Shamansky, Bookseller
(in Europe) Reimer