Samurai Museum, Tokyo…
No, it isn’t Tom Cruise. He isn’t the last one.
My husband made our kids watch The Last Samurai before we head off to Japan a few months ago. He said, ‘It’s a good way to prepare the kids for the trip.’ I did not disagree; it’s a great movie anyway.
There are many good museums to choose from in Tokyo, but the youngest in our family, Joaquin, wants the Samurai Museum. You see, he is very much into origami swords, knives and rifles, and playing pretend samurai. He is actually very good at making those paper weapons and he’s also got the smooth and swift moves of a samurai.
The museum is not big but I can tell you that it is worth your time. It is located in the busy district of Kabukicho in Shinjuku area, and less than a kilometer walk from the Shinjuku train station. Rest assured that you’ll not get bored as you walk along the streets of Shinjuku. There are countless shops and restaurants along the way.
Note though, if you have little children, that Kabukicho is also known for its nightlife so expect neon lights and crowded streets. We were in the area until around 9:30pm and got to see the colourful entertainment district.
Joaquin was so excited about the museum and even volunteered during the samurai sword performance. He inspected every single samurai outfit and headgear in the two-floor museum, and probably read every English description of the swords and rifles.
To get the best out of your visit, it’s imperative to join the small group tour which during the time of our visit was every 15 minutes. There were a few tours running simultaneously so we didn’t have to wait long. Prior booking was not necessary. Our guide was knowledgeable, funny and had trivia about almost everything.
We learned quite a lot about these elite warriors. They were respected and revered for their swordsmanship and disciplined way of life, but most of all for their loyalty and valuing of their honour over their life.
The samurai headgear (kabuto) have different styles and can be identified by the metal crests. The higher the crest, the higher the rank of the samurai. It was interesting what our guide said, that shorter samurai leaders made their crest exceedingly high and elaborate to compensate for their lack of height. ‘Something that an insecure person would do,’ he quipped rather truthfully.
The fun and engaging samurai sword performance also gave us a memorable time at the museum. Both Joaquin and I had our share of fame during the show (watch our video below!). We got to touch some of the items on display, and Benjamin and Joaquin got to wear samurai costumes, too. Both kids were thrilled to be samurais for a night.
Address: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Kabukicho 2-25-6, Tel.03-6457-6411
Opening Hours: 10:30 to 21:00 (Last admission 20:30)
Entrance fees: Adult Y1800, Child Y800, free for 3 years old and below
Next post will be on our cruise on Sumida River. Stay tuned!
Click here for our Japan itinerary.