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You Can Be a Samurai Too! A Comprehensive Guide to the SAMURAI MUSEUM in Tokyo

SAMURAI MUSEUM in Shinjuku, Tokyo, is a popular facility where you can learn about samurai history, see real armor and helmets, and dress up as a samurai. This is a comprehensive guide to the SAMURAI MUSEUM in Tokyo, where you can become a samurai, too!

1. What is a Samurai?

What do you think of when you hear the word "samurai"? Do you think of the chonmage hair-do? The swords?Samurai, who appear in Japanese history, are not just soldiers with chonmage hair-dos and swords, but are actually people who lived by the samurai spirit of "Nakoso Oshikere" (to live with pride in a manner that does not shame one's name and to put honor above life). This article introduces SAMURAI MUSEUM, where you can experience the samurai spirit that lasted for approximately 700 years, from the Kamakura period (around 1185 - 1333) through the Edo period (1603 - 1868) and Bakumatsu (1853 - 1868).
Admission fee:
Adult: 1,800 JPY (incl. tax)
12 years old and under: 800 JPY (incl. tax)
3 years old and under: Free

1. What is a Samurai?

2-25-6 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

2. See and Learn About Real Armor and Helmets

When you pass through the entrance, you'll be drawn straight into the world of samurai through an exhibition of yoroi (armor) and kabuto (helmet). The yoroi and kabuto worn to protect the body from weapons are designed differently for each military commander, so be sure to look at the distinctive details. The differentiating details, including the design and shape, are said to represent the commander's authority and dignity. Most of the exhibits are not encased, so you can see them up-close, right down to the bullet and sword marks.

3. See Legendary Japanese Swords

The swords that samurai carry around their waists are made through blacksmithing techniques that are unique to Japan. Japanese swords are amazingly sharp and have beautiful blades. They are now considered to be pieces of art with avid collectors around the world. Enjoy the beauty and power of shinken (real Japanese swords).

4. Experience it for Yourself

Once you've learned about the 700 years of samurai history, enjoy shows and experiences that are unique to SAMURAI MUSEUM. At the museum, a tate (dance and drama performance using swords) show is held every day for visitors who want to see exciting performances of sword fights. After the show, visitors have the opportunity to ask questions and learn some forms of movement, so be sure to participate!
If you want to learn more about swords, why not take a Japanese sword class (reservation required: 5,000 JPY/includes admission fee) that’s taught by a specialist who was previously a curator at the British Museum? They also have samurai calligraphy classes where you can experience and learn calligraphy in a dynamic way (reservation required: 5,000 JPY/includes admission fee). Check the museum website for dates, times, and reservations.

5. Samurai Photo Shoots

You will be completely in the groove once you've seen the show and learned some swordsmanship, so it’s a perfect time to dress up as a samurai and have your picture taken! You can put on a kabuto and jinbaori (a haori, or Japanese-style coat, is worn over yoroi), and pose with a sword for a picture on your smartphone or camera. There is no fee, so take lots of pictures to post on social media sites!

6. How About Some Samurai Souvenirs?

The souvenir corner on the first floor has many original samurai goods, including T-shirts and folding fans. The figurines of military commanders from the Sengoku period are all so cool that you may want to get them all. The replicas of swords that famous commanders had are particularly popular. They are high-quality replicas that you can hold and unsheathe. If you do buy a replica, be sure to keep your enthusiasm in check and wait until you get back to your hotel to unwrap it.

7. No Need to Speak Japanese to Fully Enjoy Everything

English pamphlets are available, and all the signage and descriptions in the museum are in four languages (Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean), so you won't miss out even if you don't speak Japanese. You can see the museum on your own, but it is recommended to join one of the free guided group tours. There are also private tours in English, which will enable you to learn more about samurai and their yoroi and kabuto.

It will take you about an hour to tour the museum and take photos, so it is a perfect opportunity to get the full samurai experience while seeing the sights of Tokyo or shopping in Shinjuku. Go and immerse yourself in the world of samurai!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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