How Will You Experience Japan?

The spirit of Japan with Samurai Trip

Whether it’s your first time or your tenth time, Japan is a unique island nation steeped in history and rich in culture. Step away from the lights of Shinjuku, the glamor of Ginza, and the scramble of Shibuya. Explore a different side of Japan with Samurai Trip.

Led by an English-speaking local, Samurai Trip offers the opportunity of a lifetime to step into the world of kendo. Experience a modern martial art evolving from samurai swordsmanship and learn how kendo intricately combines elements of Japanese culture, history, and societal values.

Read about the Samurai Trip kendo experience!

John (USA) and Travis (Australia)

Though initially strangers to one another, John and Travis quickly bonded over the course of their Samurai Trip. Both were first-timers in Japan and neither had been in Japan for more than a couple of days but they were eager to grab a sword and channel their inner samurai!

Tell us about your prior experiences or understanding of kendo, if any.
John: I have some experience with martial arts but I’ve never tried kendo.
Kendo is completely new to me; I just know that it is a traditional martial arts skill in Japanese culture.

samurai trip participants
kendo athlete

Tell us about the highlight of your Samurai Trip.
John: It was all one big adventure, but I think a highlight was learning about kendo’s reliance on speed and actually seeing how lightning fast an offensive move in kendo can be. The focus on speedy attacks mean a six-year old could beat me in kendo – that’s crazy!
Travis: The whole experience really. Kendo is clearly more than just a sport and it was interesting to learn the finer details from a kendo master with years of experience. Being able to wear the bogu and hold the shinai was cool.

If your Samurai Trip were to continue, what would you like to spend more time on?
Both: Once we started the one-on-one sessions, the kendo experience took on new dimensions of physicality and mental fatigue! It was a lot of fun to slip into this mindset where you are thinking about cleaner technique, the next move you want to try, or strategizing your attack. We would have enjoyed further one-on-one time fighting to drill in the basics even further.

“…learn the finer details from a kendo master…”

Were there parts of your kendo experience that were unexpected or more challenging from what you thought it would be?
John: I would say Samurai Trip was on par with my expectations – as with all martial arts, I found that kendo must require a lot of training to hone your strategy and techniques. Going up against and trying to keep up with Kenshi’s speed was challenging! Add the vision impairments from the men breaking up your sight and the footwork involved – sometimes, it was difficult just trying to stay upright.
Travis: The gear was not as heavy as I expected but if you were practicing for hours, it might get heavy. Overall, it was comfortable.

The Purpose of Practicing Kendo

(courtesy of the All Japan Kendo Federation)

To mold the mind and body.
To cultivate a vigorous spirit
And through correct and rigid training,
To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo.
To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor.
To associate with others with sincerity.
And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.
Thus will one be able:
To love one’s country and society;
To contribute to the development of culture;
And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples.

Fresh From Shanghai

getting ready for kendo lesson
learning kendo technique

Led by an interpreter and three kendo instructors, this 14-person group hailing from southern China was one of our most enthusiastic and boisterous crowds as of late! Samurai Trip attracts people from all over the world and easily accommodates experiences for the solo traveler to both small and large groups.

Tell us about your prior experiences or understanding of kendo, if any.
We know kendo is a traditional sport ingrained in Japanese culture and history. Sometimes, we see kendo demonstrated in different forms of media, including Japanese anime and movies.

Some of us loosely associate it with the sport of fencing, but with a wooden sword.

Tell us about the highlight of your Samurai Trip.
The fighting and sparring! Learning about the ceremonial and procedural aspects (such as the greetings and the bowing) emphasized the level of respect to the sport and to one another.

Of course, the shinai is an integral part of kendo but we didn’t realize just how much the shinai must become a part of you in practicing kendo.

We didn’t expect so much shouting – it takes a lot of courage to really shout with a strong sense of purpose! Our final highlight was finding out that we can keep the cloths we used as a protective layer for our men headgear.

kendo athletes fighting

“…kendo is clearly more than just a sport.”

Were there parts of your kendo experience that were unexpected or different from what you thought it would be like?
We were surprised to learn that kendo is practiced amongst children as young as six. I can hardly imagine a child wearing the bogu, wielding their own kendo shinai!

Compared to kendo, we assumed karate or judo may be more popular in Japan but that doesn’t seem to be the case. For a martial art to be so skillfully practiced, taught and learned by both the young and old was unexpected – kendo seems to be more popular across a wider demographic than we thought.

What are your thoughts on the sport and art of kendo now?
We’ve gained a newfound respect for both the sport and art of kendo. Last month, some of us came to Japan and experienced sado (traditional Japanese tea ceremony).

From these two experiences, it’s evident that the Japanese have an affinity for “ceremony” and “procedure”. For us, understanding these values allow us to better understand the Japanese culture.

If the Samurai Trip experience were to continue, what would you like to spend more time on?
We would spend more time working on gaining a sense of rhythm. With the stepping (footwork), striking, and shouting, we struggled to smoothly put together all of the elements

teacher adjusting kendo gear
practicing kendo move
athletes in kendo stance

“…a newfound respect for both the sport and art of kendo.”

About Kenshi Nagamatsu

Born in Tokyo, Kenshi is a graduate of Keio University’s Faculty of Law. Once a stockbroker at a well-known securities firm, Kenshi quit in pursuit of a local entrepreneurial venture that would utilize his passion and experience in kendo.

Having developed Samurai Trip from scratch, Kenshi is a success story among a growing group of Japanese men and women who have left the corporate world and actively seek opportunities rooted in traditional Japanese culture.

As the founder and leading representative of Samurai Trip, Kenshi hopes that people from all around the world will embrace this unique chance to learn about kendo in a dojo with authentic equipment.

for more information

to book your kendo experience tour
and learn more about kendo, check out Samurai Trip 

to view more pictures of the kendo experience and read reviews, click here

kendo gear