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Touring in Japan: 3 More Ways to Celebrate the Samurai

Visiting Japan means complete immersion in an ancient and rich culture. You may find signs of samurai rule all around as the warriors ruled for centuries. Here are three places you can learn more about the samurai class.


1. Specialized Museums

Almost any history museum you visit will include an “ancient Japan” display, complete with a couple of samurai swords or pieces of armor. A few specialized museums in Japan, however, will let you dig much deeper into the history and culture. Tokyo’s Sword Museum features a substantial public display of swords meant to demonstrate the artistry and culture of sword making while showcase the many types of swords used in battle. The Tokugawa Art Museum, located in Nagoya, is a private collection of numerous culture artifacts. These include swords, armor, paintings, ceramics, and tea utensils.


Smaller museums include those dedicated to preserving a particular samurai family’s history. These include the Maeda Museum and Honda Museum in Kanazawa as well as the Aoyagi Samurai Manor Museum in Semboku. These will give you special insights into the daily life and traditions of a samurai warrior and his family.


2. Battlefields

Samurai warriors fought many different battles across Japan’s history. In the late 8th and early 9th centuries, the samurai primarily fought for the emperor by defeating rebellions across the country. As lords gained power, land, and wealth, they hired samurai to live within their town and protect it from intruders. Meanwhile, warring samurai clans clashed in fields and outside of towns in an effort to take control of the government.


You can actually visit the site of a samurai battle in Japan. One of the most famous battle landmarks is the site of the Battle of Sekigahara, where Tokugawa Ieyasu led forces in 1600. This battle kicked off a three-year fight for power, which eventually ended in Tokugawa’s reign and over 250 years of piece. The Battle of Nagashino in 1575 is another figurehead in Japanese history, featuring innovative tactics that changed how future battles were fought.


Depending on the battlefield, the warriors may have clashed using spears, straight swords, curved blades, bow and arrows, or even rifles. Buy your own katana or tanto blade at Swords of The East. Many tours even include a look at other samurai-related sites, which may include a castle, samurai district, sword-making demonstration, or festival.


3. Theme Parks and Tours

If battlefields and museums are not your cup of tea, you may enjoy a theme park or specialized tour. Think about the local Renaissance Festival that sweeps through your state every so often. This is similar, but year-round. There are several history-based parks that feature feudal-era towns recreated for tourists, complete with staff dressed in period costume. These theme parks may include shops, restaurants, live shows, and exhibits or museums. Similarly, a few travel agencies offer you the chance to dress up in samurai armor or ninja costume, learn a few weapon tricks and tactics, and participate in mock battles. Whatever you choose, enjoy learning more about the great samurai warriors!