Learn Japanese katana techniques from movie actors and film your own sword-fight in an Edo setting. 

If you’ve ever dreamt of stepping into a ninja or samurai outfit and wielding a sword in an old Edo-period town, there’s a limited-time experience in Kyoto that’ll make all your dreams come true.

The Sword-Fighting Experience, as it’s called, is being held at Toei Kyoto Studio Park, a theme park and film set designed to look like a town from the Edo period (1603-1867), and run by actors trained in sword-fighting by the adjacent studio.

Participants will be able to immerse themselves in the time of that period by wearing costumes and learning some key katana moves, before taking part in a sword fight, which can be filmed for posterity.

▼ The experience also includes a photo shoot at some atmospheric sites around the set.

The 90-minute experience is split up evenly, with 30 minutes allotted to changing into costume at the beginning, 15 minutes to undress at the end, and 45 minutes dedicated to sword-fighting and photography on set.

The experience involves four stages, starting with the outfit change, and there are five types of period costumes to choose from.

▼ Left to right: Young Samurai, Ninja, Ryoma Sakamoto, Guardsman, Young Person.

Staff, all of whom can speak both Japanese and English, will help dress you before moving on to the next stage, where you’ll “learn how to use a sword in an Edo town“. Here, you’ll be taught the following techniques.

▼ Bowing

▼ Drawing the sword

▼ Sheathing the sword

▼ Seigan Stance

▼ Head-on Bamboo Strike

▼ Cut into Sword

▼ Horizontal Cut

Once you’ve become acquainted with the sword, you’ll be able to pose with it and take some commemorative photos, as staff take you through town to the site of your final battle.

This last stage is also the most exciting, because here you’ll use everything you’ve been taught to actually take part in a sword fight.

Fighting in pairs, participants will be able to film and photograph their battle, with actors on hand to ensure your moves are as authentic as the ones used in period movies and dramas.

This is an immersive experience like no other, and participants who took part when it was offered last autumn gave it rave reviews.

“It was amazing to feel like an actor in a historical drama — a wonderful experience I’ll always treasure.”
“I loved being able to take part in a sword fight against the backdrop of a historical drama.”
“The actors taught us in a fun and detailed manner, so we were able to film a wonderful video.”
“Learning the techniques and acting them out made for a great experience!” 

The only downside to the experience is it isn’t available year-round, with this instalment only running from 16 March to 2 June. There are seven time slots available every day, though, on the hour from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. inclusive, and prices range from 10,000 yen (US$65.97) for children — who must be over five years of age and taller than 110 centimetres (3.6 feet) — through to 10,200 yen for junior and senior high school students, and 11,200 yen for adults.

There aren’t many places in Japan where you can learn real sword-fighting techniques used in movies and TV dramas, let alone film yourself putting them into practice, so be sure to check out the official site for all the details, and give yourself some time to enjoy everything else the set has to offer when you visit.

Park information
Toei Kyoto Studio Park / 東映太秦映画
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Ukyo-ku, Uzumasa Higashihachiokacho 10

Source, images: PR Times
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