Tokyo Samurai Museum With Kids
Having practiced martial arts since he was three years old, the world of the Samurai and Japanese Martial Arts is one of my son’s obsession. When he heard my husband and I discussing a possible trip to Japan, his eyes instantly sparkled and he whispered “can we go and see a Samurai?”. He’s not alone, the samurai has been an iconic symbol of Japan for over 700 years. The Tokyo Samurai Museum With Kids was our top pick.
Whilst obviously we could not see a real samurai on our trip to Japan, with Tokugawa Yoshinobu deferring power back to the Emperor in 1868, we decided that on our trip we would make an effort to walk in the footsteps of a Samurai and develop a richer understanding of what it meant to be one.
To ease ourselves into the world of the Samurai, our first step was to visit the Tokyo Samurai Museum in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho area. It is the perfect starting point for Australians wanting to learn more about the samurai with the museum offering English speaking tours throughout the day. Yes, Tokyo Samurai Museum with kids is an amazing spot to visit.
Tokyo Samurai Museum is a small museum occupying two floors. It opened back in September, 2015 by founder Tetsuro Koyano who had spent over five years curating the amazing samurai armour, weapons and artefacts so he could authentically provide visitors with a comprehensive glimpse into the world of the samurai.
On arrival at the Tokyo Samurai Museum you can join an English speaking tour of around 10 people. Your tour guide will lead you through the museum and provide a commentary which will immerse you in the history of the samurai.
The initial part of the tour looks at the collection of breathtaking Samurai armour from the Muromachi (1336-1573) and Edo (1600-1868) periods. Here you will learn how they were made, the size of the men who wore them, the region they came from and how to read family symbols which denotes who owned each suit. It is all authentic, so don’t touch!
After learning about the Samurai armour your guide will prompt you upstairs. At the top of the stairs you remove your shoes as the entire level is covered in tatami mats. This level is split into six smaller areas featuring different aspects of the Samurai: the Kamakura period, swords and blades, matchlock guns, kabuto helmets, ō-yoroi (大鎧) armour, and then, links to the modern world.
Along with the tatami mats, you will find this level transports you back into the Edo period with paper screens, a perfected ambience of atmospheric music, and a focus on the sensory. It’s also the level where many misconceptions about the samurai are dispelled. As you kneel in each room to listen to the guide, it’s easy to let the imagination roam and transport you back in time. What an amazing place.
The Samurai Sword Battle performance is a highlight of the tour. Lasting around 15-20 minutes, a samurai displays his skills with a sword before members of the audience were invited up alongside him to try. We were quite chuffed when our 10 year old son, Striker, was called up to give it a go. This performance is enacted four times a day from 2.00 pm.
Tokyo Samurai Museum
Opening hours: 10.30 am to 9.00 pm
Address: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Kabukicho 2-25-6
Ticket Prices: 1,800 yen (Adult) | 800 yen (12 & under) | Free (3 and under)
Our samurai experience didn’t stop in Tokyo. Having been fascinated with the concept of a nightingale floor for some years since reading Lian Hearn’s fictional trilogy, Tales of the Otori, Nijo Castle had been on the itinerary before we had even booked our plane tickets. It was a chance to hear the chirping with our own ears!
Whether you want to walk in the footsteps of the Samurai or just look at a little slice of Japanese history, Nijo Castle needs to be on your Kyoto itinerary. It is one of the UNESCO seventeen Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, but most importantly when it comes to Samurai history it is the place where it all started….and ended.