As with all military leaders of the preceding Momoyama Period (1573-1615), the Tokugawa were celebrated patrons of the arts. The sheer output of the craftsmen they employed reveals an indefatigable support of the arts that extended to the amassing of beautifully crafted swords, armor, art and tea-ceremony utensils.

Although local workmanship was held to a very high standard, the most prized ceramics were typically imported from China and Korea. Among the highlights of the ceramics on exhibit are four rare tea bowls, including a Chinese Tenmoku-ware bowl with an oil-spot glaze, a Korean Mishima-ware bowl, an Ido-ware bowl with a deep interior, and a white Hakeme-ware bowl with a white slip applied by brush.

The Mishima tea bowl, dating to the 16th century, belonged to the tea master Sen-no-Rikyu (1522-1591). This exquisitely designed, cylindrically shaped bowl of gray-green stoneware is decorated with a repeated stamped inlay pattern in white.