Travel back in time
Stepping into the museum instantly transports you to feudal Japan as Tokyo reverts to Edo, and the city’s towering skyscrapers fade from your consciousness. After paying the entry fee, you are free to roam the museum on your own or take a one-hour guided tour. Although all exhibits have descriptions in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean, the information provided can be somewhat limited. Therefore, I recommend joining one of the frequently scheduled guided tours which are provided in English.
The museum is filled with exhibits containing several original sets of armor and weaponry. One sword in particular is over 800 years old! Additional highlights include:
– A fascinating exhibit on the legendary ronin, Miyamoto Musashi
– The chance to try on pieces of replica samurai armor
– Discovering who Japan’s real Last Samurai was (hint: it wasn’t Tom Cruise or Ken Watanabe)
There are also live sword performances throughout the day, and you can find the latest scheduling information on the official website. With a reservation and additional fees, you can participate in a samurai sword lecture or try your hand at a samurai calligraphy lesson. Don’t worry if you can’t experience everything that the Samurai Museum has to offer on your first visit. At the time of this writing, you can reenter the museum at a later date with your original ticket.
A crash course in samurai history
At 1,900 yen per ticket, some may consider the Samurai Museum to be a bit pricey, especially considering how small it is. If you have no interest in samurai history, this might not be the museum for you. You can find some more affordable alternatives here.
If, however, you have even a passing interest in a crash course on the samurai and their integral role in Japanese history, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal. The entry fee is a small price to pay for an intimate guided tour, live sword demonstrations, and the unforgettable chance to try on pieces of samurai armor. Additionally, photographs are not only permitted, but encouraged—a rare treat when it comes to Japanese museums.
So the next time you find yourself in the ultra-modern Shinjuku Ward, check out the Samurai Museum, and journey back to a period of time like no other. In addition to increasing my knowledge of the samurai way of life, a life typically filled with constant battle (or the threat thereof), my visit to the museum had an unexpected side effect: an appreciation for the relatively peaceful society that many of us enjoy today. And that, as they say, is truly priceless.
For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website which includes additional location details:
The Samurai Museum: An Exclusive Shinjuku Experience Nearly 700 Years in the Making
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