This last week we had the chance to go to Tokyo. While we were there we were able to attend the Samurai Museum. It is located near Shinjuku in Kabukichou, which was the redlight district, but has changed over the years to more of a bar and entertainment area. We went during the day, so it looked much like the other areas of Tokyo, except for more signage. I’m not exactly sure why they put a samurai museum in the entertainment district, but I guess it has a lot of foot traffic. The store clerk said that he gets about 97%, foreign customers.
Inside the museum, there was gift shop at the entry and then a long hallway with 7 suits or armor. Some of them were several hundred years old. The nicest set was from the Shimazu clan from the southern tip of Japan’s main islands. It was for the lord over that area. At the end of the hall were stairs that lead to a second floor that had several small rooms with some interesting displays with samurai related items including helmets, stirrups, swords, spears, and naginata.
At the end of the second floor was a small demonstration room. We had a guided tour with about 8 of us. The demonstration room held about 30 people. Once everyone was settled a “samurai” came out and demonstrated several moves. Sometimes he would flash the sword over people’s heads to make it more exciting. Then an “enemy” came out and they had a short duel, swinging, dodging, blocking and finally the coup de grâce, with the old under the arm “stab” to the chest. They did some of the moves that I recognize from Iaido, but it was more rushed and flashy than what I’ve been taught. It kind of reminded me of the old west shoot outs they would put on at Universal Studios.
After the demonstration they had a guest volunteer come out and they did a move with padded swords. Then pictures could be taken and they had an area to try on a few “samurai” things and take some snapshots. Everyone had a good time and it was a good 1.5 hours spent. You can check out their web site at:https://www.samuraimuseum.jp/en/
When we start our tour we would like to do something much more personalized, but with the same sort of themes.