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A Trip for Martial Arts Enthusiasts

This trip was designed for the traveler who not only wants to learn about the various Japanese martial arts, but experience them too.

Day 1 (Tokyo)

Welcome to Tokyo, the biggest city in the world! We will arrange for someone to collect you from the airport and take you to your hotel. You will also meet one of our representatives who will give you an orientation and organize all your passes and train tickets for the duration of your trip. We won’t schedule too much to give you some time to recover after a long flight. We can arrange dinner reservations for you at a place of your choosing. Keep in mind that some restaurants (especially the Michelin rated ones) do book up quite far in advance so the sooner we know the better.

Day 2 (Chiba)

As a fan of martial arts, no trip to Japan would be complete without a visit to Katori Jingu. A short trip to Chiba just outside of Tokyo, will take you to one of the most important shrines in Japan due to its age. It’s one of 3 shrines that have existed since before the Meiji period, and it’s a legend of its own. This place houses the great Futsunushi, otherwise known as The God of Warriors. People from all over Japan come here to pray for good luck in tournaments and for safe training. After visiting the temple, head back to Narita. No, not the airport, but the town nearby. It is often an overlooked part of Tokyo. That said, it is actually a great way to experience Japan as it used to be. This place was one of the routes travelers would take in order to get to Narita Sanshoji temple from Edo. Back in the day, this was a journey that would take 3 or 4 days. The temple still stands today, and you will get the chance to explore it as well. The town surrounding the temple has an old town vibe to it, that will make you feel like you have traveled back in time. Aside from old buildings, you will also find a number of eateries and shops selling everything from souvenirs to fabrics and much more. You’ll finish the day with a visit to the samurai museum. Learn more about these old-time warriors and get the chance to try on their armor and helmets.

Day 3 (Tokyo)

From one warrior to another. While samurai might be the most famous warriors of Japan, sumo wrestlers are not far behind. But have you ever wondered what a sumo wrestler’s life looks like? Well, today you will get to experience it yourself. You are starting the day bright and early with a visit to Ryogoku in Tokyo. This is essentially where all the sumo-action happens in Japan. You will get the chance to visit a sumo-stable and see where they live, as well as how they spend the day. Of course, you will also have the opportunity to witness them train and prepare for their matches. While watching these giants spar is one thing, how about checking out an actual match? Depending on the day, you can catch either one of the tournaments or an unofficial match.

Day 4 (Tokyo)

Now that you have spent some time watching from the side-lines, it’s time for you to get to practice some martial arts of your own. Today you’re heading to the Kodokan Judo Institute. If you’re a fan of Judo and have studied its history, you might have heard about Kodokan. What better place to practice judo than in the very place founded by the creator? At the same location, you will also get a chance to pay a visit to the Kodokan Judo museum and learn more about the history of the sport, as well as its founder. Let’s meet another warrior from Japan’s past days. Tonight, you will get to enjoy a true ninja-dinner, served by your own ninja at Ninja Akasaka. It will be a unique experience with delicious ninja-themed food and plenty of entertainment.

Day 5 (Tokyo)

We hope you’re feeling energetic because today you’re heading to Ginza and Kyokushin Training Hall to practice some karate. You will have many options to choose from, whether you’re looking for a beginner lesson or something more advanced. In fact, the instructor has held the title of Kyokushin Karate National Champion for the last 3 years in a row. Don’t forget to spend some time exploring the luxurious Ginza-district, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Japan. Finish the day with a kabuki-performance in one of Japan’s most famous kabuki-houses, with the option to explore the premises afterwards. How about getting a memorable photo of the experience where you get the chance to dress up in complete kabuki-garb?

Day 6 (Kyoto)

It’s time to leave Tokyo and head towards Japan’s other big cities; Osaka and Kyoto. If you are interested in samurai, you will find a lot of exciting things to explore and do, like maybe enjoying a cup of tea in Japan’s national hero Ryoma Sakamoto’s favorite hangout in Kyoto. Or perhaps get the chance to visit his grave with stunning views of Kyoto, along with a museum dedicated to the Japanese shinsengumi. In the evening, take a stroll over to Gion to enjoy some performances of traditional arts and maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of a geisha or maiko hurrying down the street to her next appointment.

Day 7 (Kyoto)

When you think about samurai, dancing might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, it is said that samurai used to practice a kind of dance with their swords in order to prepare themselves for battle. At Samurai Kembu theater in Kyoto you will get the chance to do exactly that. Together with a fan and a sword, you will get to both watch a performance of this dance, as well as get the chance to give it a go yourself. Now that you’re ready for battle, it’s time you get yourself a weapon. How about trying your hands at making your own samurai-knife under the guidance of a certified swordsmith? Whether for yourself or a souvenir, it will be an experience out of the ordinary.

Day 8 (Osaka)

Under the influence of the surrounding samurai-history, you’re heading to Osaka next for some iaijutsu, also known as batto-do or Japanese sword cutting. You will learn how to handle a Japanese katana or samurai sword at Ryuseiken Batto-do's main training hall. The headmaster of this school is the former Guinness Book of World Records holder for senbongiri (1000 perfect cuts) and frequently travels the world teaching people how to use a Japanese sword. After an active day, spend the evening enjoying the rich culture and food that Osaka has to offer. Walk along the river and see if you can spot the famous Glico-man. Eat some okonomiyaki or takoyaki, famous in Osaka. Still hungry? Make sure to give kushikatsu a try, another favorite Osaka dish.

Day 9 (Shikoku)

Shikoku is often overlooked by most foreign travelers, but the fact is that it is an island rich in culture and plenty to explore. As a fan of martial arts, you will be paying a visit to a place visited by many warriors before you, going as far back as the 10th century.

At Oyamazumi-jinja you will find the most extensive samurai treasury in all of Japan. Praying for good luck in battle, this shrine was visited of many warriors of the past, including some of the most famous ones in Japan.

After winning a war, the same warriors would then return to the shrine and leave a piece of armor or a weapon as a sacrifice to the gods as a way to say, “thank you”. You will still find these pieces of armor and weaponry on display in this shrine and it is truly a sight to behold. An experience you are sure to remember.

After the shrine, continue to Okayama and to the Bizen Sword museum. Learn and see for yourself the different steps in creating a sword from beginning to end.

Day 10-12 (Iga)

Today we are heading to Iga. If you are interested in ninja, this place might sound familiar to you as this is the most famous hometown of this warrior.

Get the chance to see a real ninja-show where you get to learn about traditional ninja-techniques and ninjutsu at the Ninja museum. This will be followed by the opportunity to try your hand at shuriken or even take a class in the ways of the ninja.

You will also get the chance to explore a house full of trapdoors and other hidden contraptions, while learning more about these hidden assassins of the past.

Can’t get enough of ninja? Good! You will also get to experience the Ninja festa that takes place every year in Iga. And it is just what it sounds like; a festival celebrating ninja. You will get to see plenty of performances and take workshops in the art of the ninja.

Better yet, ever wonder what the ninja used to eat? Today you’ll taste some of their foodfare yourself.

Day 13 (Tokyo)

Finally, time to head back to Tokyo for your last experiences in Japan. Today you will get your last training as a samurai-warrior, including the chance to try some real traditional samurai-food.

Start your day with some kendo-practice and learn to perfect your swordsmanship and end it with a meal fit for a warrior. Spend your evening exploring the city one last time and drink some traditional Japanese sake before it’s time to go home.

Day 14 (Tokyo)

Hop on the airport liner to Narita and say goodbye to Japan. Hopefully you have enjoyed your time here and gotten a chance to experience a lot of what this beautiful country has to offer martial arts enthusiasts.

Japan is a country with an extremely rich martial arts history. Not only were the warriors of the past looked up to for their physical prowess, but the principles and teachings of each school have heavily influenced Japanese culture, values and behavior –  something that is still seen today. This trip was designed for travelers who wanted to understand the role that martial arts has played in Japanese history, while experiencing these first-hand. From sumo matches, judo classes and ninja festivals, to sword-making, samurai displays and age-old shrine visits, this trip not only shows you what Japan was like in the past, but how these practices continue even today.

Client:

Travelers wanting to learn about and experience Japanese martial arts.

Number of days:

15

Season:

Autumn

Locations:

Tokyo / Kyoto / Osaka / Shikoku / Okayama / Iga

Guided:

Semi-guided

Price range:

Ages(s): 23-40

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