With a display of bright red armour guarding its entrance, there is no mistaking that you have arrived at the Samurai Museum Tokyo. Located a 10-minute walk from Shinjuku JR station along a narrow street, the Samurai Museum is a museum that provides an authentic look into the quintessential of all Japanese warrior figures, the Samurai.
The private museum spans two floors with the majority of the exhibits found on the second level.
Upon entering the museum, you will be greeted by the admission counter to the right and a souvenir shop to the left.
After purchasing your tickets, you can make your way deeper into the museum, walking past a corridor guarded by Samurai armour, and up the stairs to the galleries above.
A visit to the Samurai Museum Tokyo comprises two parts – a live demonstration of Samurai swordsmanship and a tour of the exhibits.
Ushered into a room, you will be invited to take a seat on chairs or on the floor.
Silently, a swordsman enters the room.
Without saying a word, he goes through his paces, wielding his sword in a set of practised moves while keeping a stern countenance.
As the room is small, the action takes place only metres away from the audience. At times, his deliberate and strong strokes make some of those sitting at the front withdraw backwards involuntarily.
Once the performance is over, the swordsman’s visage lightens up and he breaks a smile. As it turns out, he is really quite friendly.
Audience members are invited up to try out sword moves under his guidance. This is followed by a Q&A session.
“How long does it take learn the way of the sword?”, “Why do samurai carry two swords?”. The audience is welcomed to ask the swordsman any questions they like.
Exhibition Rooms at Samurai Museum Tokyo
The next part of the visit is a guided tour through five gallery rooms. While you can visit the galleries on your own, we strongly recommend joining the tour.
A friendly guide brings small groups through exhibits which span the 700 years of the samurai age. There are tours conducted in English.
The tour starts off at the Kamakura Period which saw the emergence of the samurai class. It moves on to displays of the katana or samurai sword, kabuto helmet, traditional armour and matchlock firearms.
In one of the rooms, visitors can even try on the samurai armour and kabuto (helmet).
Is Samurai Museum Tokyo Worth a Visit?
The Samurai Museum is a small museum. With a price tag of 18,000 yen for adults, some may questioning if it is worth a visit. Nonetheless, if you are looking for an interesting way to get to know Japanese history, we think the Samurai Museum Tokyo may be just right for you. Even if you are not a history buff, you will get a fascinating, close-up look at an icon of Japan’s past.
The experience is enhanced by the chance to interact with the friendly demonstrators and guides who make a visit to the Samurai Museum a personal and eye-opening experience.
Getting to Samurai Museum Tokyo
The museum is located at Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Kabukicho 2-25-6.
It is around a 10 minute walk from the closest train stations. The Kabukicho district is known for hostess bars but don’t let that put you off – just don’t be surprised if you find yourself walking past some of these establishments on your way to the Samurai Museum.
Samurai Museum Tokyo, Shinjuku
Address: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Kabukicho 2-25-6
Admission: Adults – 1,800 yen; Children under 12 – 800 yen; Children under 3 – Free accompanied by adults