Learning the way of the Samurai- Tokyo’s Samurai Museum
Updated: Jan 15
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When you hear about Japan, ninjas and samurais may come to mind. You will find both of these in the wonderful country.
The サムライ ミュージアム Samurai museum can be found in the Kabukicho district of Shinjiku, Tokyo, Japan. Kabukicho is considered one of Tokyo’s largest red light districts in Japan. Despite the provocativeness here in this area, you can find some very cool attractions. One of them is the Samurai museum. Even though you may pass love hotels, bars, and adult stores, it is safe to go to the museum during the day time. A lot of families frequent this museum in the day time. I have been around the museum both in the day time and night time. During the night time, you may observe some interesting events unfolding. That being said, I would avoid going to the museum in the late evening especially if you are planning to bring your family.
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Founded by Tetsuro Koyano, the museum opened in September 2015, the place has gained a lot of public recognition. In fact, tourists fascinated with the history of the Samurai period flock to this spot to increase their knowledge of this period. The museum is jam packed with artifacts like helmets, swords, for instance from the Kamakura and Edo dating back to about 700 years ago.
The start of the tour will be on the first floor where you will be introduced to a variety of traditional armor that originates from the Marumachi and Edo periods. Once our tour guide helpfully explained the history of the armor, she allowed us to ask any questions and to take photos of the armor.
Subsequently, we headed to the second floor where we were instructed to remove our shoes. We were then led a room to await a samurai performance. While sitting on the floor, along with about 30 people, I watched intently for the Samurai. Within about 5 minutes, he appeared from a set of doors with his sword strapped to his thigh. After entering the room, he bowed and then performed a series of beautiful and skull techniques with his sword. The performance lasted for about 5 minutes. Immediately, the Samurai asked for volunteers. Before I had time to raise my hand, a female was already volunteering. Basically, she had a short 5 minute session how to properly draw the sword and use it. The female was clueless about what to do. After the session, we were permitted to have our picture made with the instructor while having a sword strapped to our waist.
The remaining of the tour ended with viewing artifacts including matchlock guns, swords, katanas, and helmets. What fascinated me on this floor was observing the replica helmets of pertinent Samurai War lords including Tokugawa Ieyasu. I enjoyed learning about this Samurai so much, I purchased a replica toy action figure of him at the souvenir shop.
Shortly after this viewing and learning about the history of the artifacts, we had fund donning on Samurai gear donning on a Samurai body armor and a Samurai helmet and having our picture made. That was the end of the tour.
Prior to walking out of the museum, I shopped at the souvenir shop. The items were pricey, but they were very unique. I ended up purchasing a Samurai ball cap, a Samurai T-shirt, a replica figure of a famous Samurai, and some Samurai playing cards. If you have extra yen, I would definitely recommend purchasing some souvenirs.
The price for the admission is a little takai. Expect to pay about 1800 yen for adults and 800 yen for children. If you think the prices are unreasonable, think it as a package deal. Personally, if you view the museum in that light, it is worth the money.
The tour guides were very passionate about talking about the Samurai. I definitely increased my knowledge of the Samurai period. Having a black belt in martial arts and having taken many forms of martial arts for years, I understand the hard work and time investing in perfecting sword technique or any form of martial arts for that matter.
The Samurais practiced performing techniques persistently and they held true to a strict honor bushido (the way of the warrior) code especially in the time of battle. That being said, the Samurais were notable for having great power and courage. They were fearless warriors.
The staff at the museum wants tourist to understand the spirit of the Samurai. In fact, during the day the museum offers sword and calligraphy lessons for eager tourists.