Ninja / Samurai Experiences in Tokyo

The legend of the samurai is strongly associated with Japan, so many tourists visiting Tokyo seek an experience related to this theme.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

8 min read

Ninja / Samurai Experiences in Tokyo

Samurai | ©Beni Arnold

The figure of the samurai is revered in Japan and is an integral part of its history and culture. Since ancient times, these expert warriors in martial arts were part of the Japanese tradition, but it was not until the West became interested in the subject when the legend became globalized to become one of the attractions to see and do in Tokyo.

Currently there are many tourists who are interested in the stories of samurai and the experiences offered in the Japanese capital on the subject as soon as they arrive in Japan. If you are one of them, here is all the information about the best samurai tours in Tokyo.

1. Visit the Samurai Museum in Tokyo

Tokyo Samurai Museum| ©Monica Wong
Tokyo Samurai Museum| ©Monica Wong

Located in the Shinjuku district, the Tokyo Samurai Museum is the site with the largest amount of information and material on the subject in the Japanese capital.

This interactive museum is oriented to all those who want to live a samurai experience learning about the culture of the warrior masters.

In this museum you can also try on armor and take pictures with ancient katanas, as well as visit a large souvenir store where you can buy from replicas of samurai clothing to objects considered cult in samurai culture.

The Samurai Museum's eight permanent and two temporary exhibition halls also explain much of Japan's history, so the visit is often recommended by guides on guided tours of Tokyo.

Details of interest

  • Price... Admission costs approximately 14 euros.
  • Museum hours... Open daily from 10:30 am to 9:00 pm.
  • Museum location... 2 Chome-25-6 1F-2F.

2. Become a real samurai warrior in Shibuya

samurai in Shibuya| ©Dushan Hanuska
samurai in Shibuya| ©Dushan Hanuska

To become a true samurai, it is not enough to learn martial arts, you must also understand the discipline of the warrior masters and wear their clothing and armor.

On this tour you will receive an introductory course to the samurai experience and get to step into the shoes of some of the most famous fighters, such as Date Masamune, the One-Eyed Dragon.

On this tour in a Shibuya photo studio you will choose from seven different armors of various colors and styles and you will have at your disposal the swords and spears of a real samurai. A professional photographer will capture the moment by taking the best pictures and you will be able to take digital copies as souvenirs.

This tour includes the samurai kacchu and helmet, the service of a professional photographer, the introductory course with an interactive video and the photo prints.

Details of interest

  • Price... This experience is around 96 euros including armor, clothing and photographic service.
  • Tourlocation... 5-6 Maruyamacho King Bldg. 7F.
  • Duration of the tour... The experience lasts approximately one and a half hours.

3. Enjoy a show at the Tokyo Samurai Theater

Samurais| ©Ronin Dave
Samurais| ©Ronin Dave

If you are interested in Japanese culture and spirituality, the shows at the Tokyo Samurai Theater will leave you in awe. Attending one of these shows is a must if you are a fan of the samurai theme. In addition, it will allow you to enter the independent art circuit of the Japanese capital.

The theater is located in Kagurazaka, which is Tokyo's old samurai quarter, and offers two regular shows for small groups. The Samurai Show and the Samurai Experiencie, an interactive play in which the audience is part of the cast wearing the same costumes as the actors.

If you are visiting Tokyo during the spring, you can also enjoy Sotobori Park, famous for its lush cherry blossom vegetation. Kagurazaka is also a neighborhood with restaurants and bars that make the area a must for Tokyo food tours.

Details of interest

  • Price... Each show costs approximately 45 euros.
  • Theater location... 40 Yokoteramachi, Tokyo.

Book a gastronomic tour of Tokyo

4. Relive the Battle of Ueno in Tokyo Park

Ueno Park| ©Sjaak Kempe
Ueno Park| ©Sjaak Kempe

When in 1868 the samurai army was defeated by the imperial forces seeking to reinstate the Emperor as ruler of Japan, the shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu secluded himself in the Kanei-ji temple in Ueno Park and promised to surrender without resistance.

However, a group of samurai came forward to defend the shogunate and the bloody Battle of Ueno ensued in which the imperial forces prevailed over the samurai.

Today it is possible to relive that battle, which was decisive for the Meiji Restoration and the Bakumatsu, walking through Ueno Park between the pagoda of the Kanei-ji temple and the tombs of the Shogitai warriors. You can also visit the ancient Kuromon that keeps traces of the battle bullets.

Ueno Park also houses the Tokyo National Museum, a nature reserve, a zoo and several indoor gardens where it is possible to take some of the best photographs of the Japanese capital.

Details of interest

  • Price... Admission to the park is free.
  • Park hours... The park is open from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm.
  • Park location... Uenokoen, Tokyo.

Book a photo tour in Tokyo

5. Delve into the samurai world at the Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum| ©i_yudai
Tokyo National Museum| ©i_yudai

The Tokyo National Museum is the oldest and largest museum in Japan and holds the largest collection of Japanese art in the world, but it is also a cultural haven for some of the country's most characteristic traditions, such as the legend of the samurai.

The museum currently has six permanent samurai-themed exhibits, with a large collection of swords, clothing and armor used by the warriors, especially during the Edo Period, when the samurai ruled the country. There are also temporary exhibits on some of the significant events linking the samurai to the history of Japan.

At the Edo Period exhibition you can also discover how traditional craftsmanship of the time paid homage to the samurai with sculptures, metalwork, ceramics and textile fabrications.

Details of interest

  • Price... The entrance fee is approximately 8 euros.
  • Museum location... Uenokoen, Tokyo.
  • Museum hours... The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.

6. Train like a samurai under the orders of a great master

Samurai| ©Wilhelm Joys Andersen
Samurai| ©Wilhelm Joys Andersen

On this tour you will not only dress up as a samurai and be taught his legend, but you will also draw the katana under the orders of an international master of the Kenbu style Tachibana Ittoryu. In this flexible length training you will learn how to use the sword with an ancient technique.

The tour also includes the rental of the samurai attire, the single-edged sword and a photo session to eternalize your experience. You can also opt for a video of the training session and after practicing with the katana you will receive a certificate that will accredit you as an authentic samurai warrior belonging to a clan.

This experience is designed for the whole family, so it is one of the ideal plans if you are visiting Tokyo with children.

Details of interest

  • Price... This experience starts from €91 including single-edged sword, costume and photo service or video shoot.
  • Location of the tour... 2 Chome-2-5.
  • Duration of the excursion... The experience lasts approximately two hours.

7. Take a day trip to the samurai town of Kamakura from Tokyo

Kamakura, Kotoku-in Temple| ©Angel de los Rios
Kamakura, Kotoku-in Temple| ©Angel de los Rios

Kamakura is a very important city in Japanese history, since it is where the first military government of the country was established in the 12th century, beginning the Samurai Period.

For almost 200 years Kamakura displaced Kyoto as the seat of central power in Japan and resisted the Mongol invasions with a large army under the command of the samurai Takezaki Suenaga.

For the samurai culture, therefore, Kamakura is the most important city and it is possible to visit it on an excursion from Tokyo with an expert local guide.

Located about an hour from the Japanese capital, travel during the tour is by public transport and in Kamakura the tour includes a visit to the Hachiman samurai shrine, Zen temples and the bronze statue of Kotoku-in, the eleven-meter tall Big Buddha.

In Kamakura you can also tour the picturesque Enoshima Island, which is crowned by the Shinto shrine and the tropical plant garden.

Details of interest

  • Price... The tour costs approximately 112 euros.
  • Duration of the tour... Approximately eight hours including round-trip transfers from Tokyo.

8. Visit the tomb of the 47 Ronin at Sengaku-ji temple

47 Ronin| ©DocChewbacca
47 Ronin| ©DocChewbacca

The story of the 47 Ronin is a national legend of ancient Japan according to which a group of samurai who were forced to become ronin, or lordless samurai, by the suicide to which their feudal lord was condemned, took revenge by killing the high official who signed the condemnation.

This legend took place in Tokyo between 1701 and 1703 and exemplifies the samurai code of honor based on loyalty, sacrifice and perseverance of loyal vassals.

The legend pays tribute to the 47 Ronin who agreed to execute revenge and then surrendered to the authorities, who sentenced them to harakiri.

The story became very popular during the forced modernization period of the Meiji Era, when many Japanese felt that the country was losing its cultural roots. This also contributed to the popularization of the figure of the samurai.

Today the tombs of the 47 Ronin can be visited at the Buddhist temple of Sengaku-ji, in the old Takanawa district of Minato-ku.

Details of interest

  • Price... Admission to the temple is free.
  • Temple location... 2 Chome-11-1, Tokyo.
  • Museum opening hours... The temple is open daily from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.

9. Lunch or dinner at a Sengoku Period themed restaurant

Japanese food| ©steve happ
Japanese food| ©steve happ

Sengoku Buyuden is a themed restaurant decorated with all kinds of objects related to samurai legends. There you can have lunch or dinner surrounded by armor, helmets, katanas and all kinds of objects from the Sengoku Period, which refers to the long years of civil wars that ended with the unification of Japan.

This izakaya or themed bar in Tokyo stands out for its local food, sushi and seafood, which are as good as the ambience of the spaces. Menu items pay homage to great warriors by bearing their names and the bathroom doors are guarded by two life-size samurai.

Themed restaurants are a growing trend in Tokyo and there are other similarly themed places you can visit, such as Ninja Café & Bar, which in addition to the decor offers waiters characterized as ninjas and a photo shoot that turns diners into part of the scenery.

Interesting details

  • Restaurant Location... 1 Chome-6-2 T-wing Building 4F.
  • Restaurant hours... Every day from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm.

10. Learn how to use shuriken stars at Ninja Samurai Dojo

Samurai Training| ©USARJ NCO
Samurai Training| ©USARJ NCO

Although they have different origins, the ninja and samurai themes have merged throughout history. That is why at Ninja Samurai Dojo they decided to combine these two activities to create a training camp where it is possible to experience ninja-samurai training and learn how to use the shuriken stars.

At Ninja Samurai Dojo you can participate in seminars or train an individual technique. The goal of the founders is to recover the traditions of the ninjas and samurai of ancient times, who were forced to learn the eighteen martial arts and performing arts such as dance and ninjutsu, which is the Japanese martial art of espionage and guerrilla warfare.

All these millenary techniques survived the times and at Ninja Samurai Dojo you can learn them in regular courses or in intensive one-week seminars for visitors. So you know, if you are visiting Tokyo for seven days you can become a professional ninja-samurai.

Details of interest

  • Price... Intensive courses start at 55 euros.
  • Location of the temple... 2 Chome-17-8, Tokyo.