If you want to visit a samurai museum in Japan, this is the best one!!!
The samurai and ninja museum shows 5 eras: Heian Period, Kamakura Period, Muromachi Period, Edo Period and Meiji Period. Visitors can wear a samurai armor, visitors can also use a real samurai sword. There is a samurai show, ninja, samurai sword show and a sumo wrestling show. In the same building it is possible to experience the Japanese tea ceremony. The location of the samurai museum is in the middle of Kyoto City. The Osaka branch is not far from Dotonbori.
The samurai and ninja museum had interesting artifacts from the medieval times. The guests can enjoy the museum with the help of tour guides. There are many exciting samurai backdrops to take picture and also a samurai and ninja gift shop. The museum is open from 10 AM to 7 PM. You can purchase tickets on this website.
Heian Period (794-1185)
The samurai period started in the “Heian Period.” The Taira clan and Minamoto clan protected the emperor. However, they started fighting agaisnt each other. After the Genpei War, the Minamoto clan started governing Japan. The emperor had no power.
Kamakura Period (1185~ 1333)
The Minamoto clan moved to Kamakura. They established a military government and the leader was called “Shogun.” Budhism became more popular. In 1274, Kubilai Khan and the Mongolians attacked Japan. They were defeated by the samurai. The Mongolians attacked in 1281 again and the samurai defeated them again. In both invasions, there were strong winds. The religious people called the winds “KamiKaze.”
Muromachi Period (1336~1573)
50 years after the Mongol invasions, some clans wanted the emperor back. There was an uprising but it was unsuccesful. The capital moved back to Kyoto. The new era started. The Golden palace and Ryoanji temple were built during this era. In 1467, the shogun had no son to take over the country. Many “daimyo” started fighting against each other. The country was in chaos. There were dozens of small states fighting agains each other. The new era was called the “Sengoku Period.”
Azuchi Momoyama Period (1573 ~ 1603)
Oda Nobunaga who was a ruthless warrior finally managed to unify Japan. He started controling Kyoto in 1573 and this is the beginning of a new era. He was killed by his close general in 1582 at the Honnoji Temple. Honnoji Temple is right next to the Samurai and Ninja Museum in Kyoto. There were still some disagreeements among the clans in Japan. In 1600, the clans of the East side of Japan and the clans of the West side of Japan fought against each other. This was the biggest war in Japan’s history: The Sekigahara Battle. The Eastern army of Tokugawa Ieyasu won.
Edo Period (1603 ~ 1868)
Tokugawa moved the capital to Tokyo. Tokyo became one of the biggest cities in Asia. There was a very strict management system. Noone could enter Japan and noone could leave Japan. The emperor was respected but the shogun was the real ruler of the country. There were more than 100 daimyo who paid tax to the shogun. Each daimyo had hundreds of samurai warriors. The farmers gave all the rice to the daimyo. During the Edo period, 90% of the Japanese in Tokyo could read and write.
The Life of the Samurai
- Samurai means “the one who serves the master.” Although the samurai are warriors, the meaning of the word is not warrior. The Japanese word for warrior is “senshi.”
- The samurai boys were given real samurai swords when they were only 5 years old.
- Only the samurai could own 2 swords.
- Only the samurai could have a last name.
- Only the samurai could own a horse.
- Only the samurai could do harakiri.
- Only the members of a samurai family can become a samurai.
- Only the samurai and the monks were allowed to enter zen gardens.
- Only the samurai wore the heavy armor.
- The samurai were not allowed to have any other job.
- The samurai were good in poetry, flower arrangement and the literature.
- The samurai had a “wabi-sabi” life style: simple and old things are more beautiful.
- The average salary of a samurai was 3 tons of rice a year.
The life of a Ninja
- The meaning of the word ninja is “the one who endures difficulties.”
- In Japan ninja were used to be called “shinobi.”
- There were only 2 ninja clans in Japan: Iga clan and Koka clan.
- The ninjas were farmers. They did not have privileges like the samurai.
- The ninjas did not wear black outfit. Their outfit was dark blue or just simple colors.
- The ninjas were not supposed to be more than 60 kgs.
- The ninjas were very good at running. It is reported that some ninjas could run 200 km in one day.
- The ninjas can be considered as a spy. They are not warriors.
You can learn more about the samurai and ninja at our museum. We are open everyday.