Experience the samurai spirit first-hand with original swords and armour at the recently opened Samurai Museum.

Honour before life. That’s the motto you leave with after taking a walk through the incredible Samurai Museum that opened at the end of September in Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho district. Our ever-curious reporter Mr Sato took a trip here recently and shared the experience with us, saying it’s a must-see spot for foreigners and locals alike.

▼ With the large signs and traditional armour out the front, it’s easy to spot the entrance to the new Samurai Museum.


Once you take your shoes off to step inside, you’re greeted by half a dozen suits of samurai armour. The best thing about these displays is that they’re presented outside of glass cases which really draws you into the feudal world of centuries past.



▼ Having once adorned the bodies of real samurai, it’s tantalising to imagine what these garments have seen.


Without the distance and reflections you would normally encounter with displays behind glass, it’s easy to see the details on each of the different kabuto helmets.





One of the highlights was this piece of armour, which has actual bullet-hole marks. According to museum staff, this suit was used as a test of strength against matchlock bullets. We wonder which poor soul drew the short straw to be the guinea pig in that scenario!


The soul of the samurai feels ever-present here, with the dimly lit interior adding to the mystery of the collection.


On the second floor, there are five separate rooms, each featuring a different theme. Here you’ll find swords and weaponry once used by the samurai.


Alongside the katana sword, the bow and arrow also played a vital role, bot in warfare and in the development of the samurai spirit.


There’s even a display that introduces you to the history of Sakamoto Ryoma (1836–1867), one of Japan’s most famous and influential samurai, who was known for wearing Western boots with his Japanese clothing.


▼ Some of the more precious helmets here are, however, kept behind protective glass.


There’s also a room dedicated to displaying the matchlock, which was used by the samurai class and their foot soldiers during warfare after the technology was introduced to Japan.



Ashigaru, foot soldiers, who used the matchlock wore a distinctive type of conical hat called a jingasa, which was made of lacquered iron or leather.


After looking at all the artefacts in the 70-piece collection, visitors are able to try on a costume of their choice for 500 yen (US$4.10). Mr Sato, always looking to find the fun in any situation, went for a humorous look by pairing an elaborate kabuki helmet with his everyday clothes. We think you’ll agree, he looks fabulous.


The museum also offers a number of other experiences for visitors, including samurai calligraphy lessons, photo shoots in full armour, and sword battle performances. For more information, be sure to visit their English website.

Museum Information
Samurai Museum/サムライミュージアム
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 2-25-6
Open: 10:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (last entry 8:30 p.m.)
Admission: Adults 1,500 yen (US$12.25); children under 12 years 750 yen; free for children under 3 years

All photos © RocketNews24
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