If you want the chance to be a samurai for the day and to learn to use a samurai sword you should check out Samurai Kembu! We tried their 3 hour full program with costumes at their Otsu dojo and it was a great day!
Getting there was really easy, one of the Samurai Kembu staff met us at Kyoto station and took us on the train a couple of stops down the line to Otsu, and then drove us directly to the dojo. First job was to pick a katana from the rack and get tied into an Obi (belt) so we could start practising! We started by learning a short kata, which was actually a standing version of the first kata you learn in Iaido practice. Lots of fun and we all enjoyed hearing our swords swish through the air!
After a bit of practice we got into full traditional costume, (with help from the staff!) before practising some more and of course posing for lots of pictures! The staff are great and will make to take lots of pictures for you on your cameras while you’re taking the lesson.
Next we learned a classic samurai dance performance using both a samurai sword and a fan. We laughed lots while we were learning the steps, snapping out the fans, pretending to be riding horses before drawing the swords for a dramatic finish! Took a bit of practice before we could all get all the way through with only a few mistakes.
After we’d had a go our teacher gave us a performance and showed us how it was supposed to be done!
It was a fantastic day and a great cultural experience – if you’re in the area I definitely recommend it! They have dojo’s in Otsu and also by Sanjo station in Kyoto.