If you’ve ever wanted to witness samurai sword fighting and have a chance to learn a few moves yourself, Matsumoto City offers you that experience! What better place to have your samurai experience than in a city with a real castle from the feudal era? Now you can learn from dedicated reenactors who have a passion for the traditional lifestyle and are knowledgeable about the history behind the dress and conduct of the time period.
I had a chance to take part in the two-hour course myself. The instructors were very friendly and encouraging. The course can accommodate up to five people. Since a lot of movement requires bending your knees, some degree of physical fitness is recommended. While proper swordsmanship and techniques are emphasized, the instructors repeatedly encouraged us to just have fun.
The two-hour session started off with a demonstration.
After witnessing their whole-hearted prowess, we were ready to make our own attempts at wielding a sword. The swords we were given were made from bamboo. Our instructors explained that in the past, poor warriors had to sell their swords to survive, but since it would have been strange to go without a sword, poor warriors carried a much cheaper replica made from bamboo.
We started with some warm up stretches.
Then proceeded to get changed with the help of the instructors. Pants are provided, but it is a good idea to wear/bring a light shirt to keep on underneath the yukata. You’ll be getting on and off tatami mats, so it’s recommended that you wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off.
The instructors first walked us through some basics like how to properly draw, hold, and sheath our swords.
Our training finished with a final 1 vs. 2 battle utilizing the moves we learned. If you’d like a fun crash-course in sword-wielding, this is a great course to try. The 2-hour lesson is ¥5,000.