Travel Report: The Samurai Museum, Tokyo.
February 2019. After a luxurious 24 hours in the indoor bubble that was Park Hyatt Tokyo, it was finally time for Wonderboy and I to get back out into the city for another string of must-see attractions. This time our focused neighborhood was Shinjuku, with its neon-lit red light district and bar streets. Take a walk around here in the day however and things are pretty calm and there are even a few family friendly attractions for good measure. One of these is the hugely popular Samurai Museum, which showcases Tokyo’s largest collection of ancient Samurai swords and armor.
February 2019. I have no special interest in the world of Samurai but hey this is Tokyo right (?) and by this point Wonderboy and I were on a mission for our city adventures to be as forensic as possible! There’s a lot of talk online about whether the Samurai Museum is a tourist trap, a concern bolstered somewhat by the fact that at 1800JPY a ticket (£12.40/€14.40/$16.20) this is one of if not the most expensive museums in the city. In for a penny in for a pound, we paid our dues at reception and killed ten minutes in the museum shop waiting for the next complimentary English-speaking guided tour. That store was busy and boy oh boy if you’re into Samurai the place will get you feeling all gooey. This display piece of authentic Edo period Samurai armor could be all yours for the small matter of 480000JPY ticket (£3300/€3827/$4311).
February 2019. There’s more impressive armor on the tour itself, which begins in the first floor exhibition on outfits from the Muromatchi (1336-1573) and Edo periods (1603-1868). Our guide that day proved to be good value, firing off all kinds of info that I’ve mostly forgotten and making plenty of jokes along the way.
On the second floor we were taken through beautifully presented displays of Samurai helmets, matchlock rifles, Japanese swords and all manner of accessories, artwork, battle gear and parade banners. Our guide told us a lot about samurai battle etiquette that day and the thing that really stuck in my mind was how, when faced with certain defeat, isolated Samurai fighters would commit the act of seppuku, which Is basically a form of honorable suicide. They did this by self-disembowelment (!!!), as they believed that the human spirit lived in the stomach and could therefore be set free. Hardcore.
February 2019. The tour highlights are wisely saved up for the end with a very cool samurai demonstration from a skilled performer. Expect plenty of oohs and ahhs as he swishes about the pace showing off a varied range of stylish moves. He was so convincing it all got a bit too much for one young girl in the audience who could be heard audibly shrieking under the supposed safety of her mother’s arms.
February 2019. Last but not least was an opportunity to dress up for some cheesy Samurai Museum costume fun. Frankly it had been that kinda trip, so Wonderboy and I were the first to step forward for some goofy photos to cap off what had been a cool hour and a half of Samurai-themed rascality.
The Samurai Museum is in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood near the east exit of Shinjuku Station. Opening hours are daily from 10:30-21:00. For more info, check out their website.
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