Japan has long been the hub when it comes to samurai and martial arts training. In fact, a number of foreigners who want to master a specific art would visit the country to train under the best schools and mentors teaching various fighting types such as Aikido (合気道) and Judo (柔道).
Whether you’re trying to perfect martial arts or you’re just up for collecting gears, finding the best stores that offer high-quality and authentic goods is important.
In Japan, there are several stores claiming to offer authentic martial arts or samurai souvenirs. However, they do not share the same level of accessibility. Some are only open to online orders while others prefer mailing the package. If you’re staying in Tokyo, then you’ll be pleased to know that several stores are open to the public and can give you a wide selection for your own gear preference.
Let’s start the quick tour at the area closest to the Tokyo Dome stadium (東京ドーム球場) – Suidobashi (水道橋). This area is serviced by two stations: Suidobashi and Kasuga (春日) Station. Once you arrive at the place, you can start navigating around to check several stores offering various martial arts gears.
People who like Judo and have studied its history must’ve already heard of this place. It’s founded by Jigoro Kano (嘉納治五郎), the very person who founded the sport. If you’re a judo lover looking for authentic gears, memorabilia, plus the chance to take a quick practice at an open dojo, then this place is your best pick.
They’ve got excellent staff who can walk you through the place so if you can’t find the specific gear you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to ask. Chances are, they’ve just stashed it somewhere.
Looking for some quality swords for your Kendo lessons? This place has you covered! Shobudo Sangyo literally houses a huge volume of martial arts weapons and armors fit for different practices and preferences. There’s no need to look somewhere else if you’re hunting for quality swords either for sports purposes or sheer collection.
Their staff is also very much willing to answer any of your questions and if you’d like to discuss something like weapon customization, you can do so! Moreover, this place is just a couple of blocks away from Kodokan so you can easily drop by to shop!
水道橋商会なう☆ これで衣装の準備はOKなり。今日夜は、9259でお手合わせ予定です(^-^) お時間のある方、お会いしましょう！ pic.twitter.com/TV4Q67G04V
— よしき (@yoshi196) August 14, 2013
If you’re not very particular with any sport and would like to go somewhere that offers you just about anything martial arts-related, then be sure to drop by this shop. It houses items such as karate (空手), Aikido, and Judo outfits, as well as accessory tools for various forms of arts.
It’s perfect for a one-stop shopping of souvenirs. No need to jump from one place to the next since you can get most of the things you need from here.
Finding quality items for a popular sport such as karate shouldn’t be difficult. In fact, there should be a shop in your locality selling some. But if you’re set on buying gears straight from Tokyo, then Tokaido is a must-visit place.
Going further away from Suidobashi area, you can visit Iwata Shokai which is located in Shinjuku (新宿). It specializes in providing Aikido equipment both for collection and official sport tournament purposes.
This shop is located around the Kudanshita area and provides high-quality equipment like swords and Kendo gears. It’s important to note that while they offer quality swords especially for the art of Iaido, stores like this would recommend buyers to go for the replica iaito, something which closely resembles the original sword used in Iaido called shinken (真剣).
Unless you have plans on taking your Iaido practice to a higher level, the replica is already a great choice. Moreover, it’s easier to pass across customs especially if you’re a foreigner. Japanese authorities, and perhaps your local one, have strict rules when it comes to bringing authentic Japanese swords, so if you’re just planning to have the tool on display, buying the iaito (replica) is a good way to go.
Just like SAKURAYA, this shop around the Asakusa (浅草) area is perfect for anyone looking for quality swords and knives. It’s basically a katana boutique that features some of the best-designed swords with varied lengths. Anyone who wishes to purchase sets will have a fine time choosing among the store’s rich selection.
If you’re not looking for a new samurai gear but want to have someone restore the authentic one you’ve had for years, then KINOKUNIYA might be your best bet. It’s a Japanese company committed to restoring and selling samurai armor and weapons that were used by actual samurais during the warring era. It’s just a short minute walk from Tokyo Station so if you’re around the place, might as well drop a quick visit.
One great thing about shopping at KINOKUNIYA is you get the chance to admire lots of samurai items handed down from one generation to the next. The company continually beefs up their collection by engaging with top-notch industries and avid collectors who trade their authentic samurai sets for another.
If you’re looking for a complete and authentic set yourself, the best deals might be in this place!
Satiate your cravings for something martial arts and samurai-related by dropping by at any of these locations. They’re accessible via public transportation and are mostly familiar in dealing with foreign guests or customers. Given their long-time experience in providing these goods, they can also give you tips on proper maintenance and how to keep the items at their best even if you’re not using them for any official sports event.
The next time you head to Tokyo, check out one of these shops (or more) and get a feel of Japanese samurai and martial arts culture!