In the Edo era (1603-1868), Kumamoto flourished as a center of samurai culture and was home to many martial arts dojos as well as facilities for performing arts and tea ceremony. The Shimada Museum of Arts was opened in 1977 to realize the wishes of antique art researcher Matomi Shimada(1886-1977), who devoted himself to the preservation and research of Kumamoto’s samurai culture.
The museum’s collection of samurai artifacts numbers around 700 pieces. One of the highlights is the portrait of Musashi Miyamoto (1584-1645), a swordsman from the Edo period and author of The Book of Five Rings. The permanent collection features artifacts pertaining to works by Musashi, who dedicated the final years of his life in Kumamoto to cultural pursuits like tea ceremony, Zen meditation, and calligraphy.