So You Want To Be A Samurai For A Day

December 5, 2016

Have you ever watched a Japanese animation or historical drama (or even The Last Samurai) and marvelled at the costumes and swords, wishing you could be a samurai, even if only for a day? Well, look no further. Make your dreams of wielding a katana come true at Samurai Kembu Theatre.

Kembu literally means 'sword dance.' Many cultures worldwide have their own versions of sword dances. In Japan, kembu was developed during the early Meiji period but is nevertheless rooted in feudal samurai culture. In addition to swordsmanship and martial training, samurai were also required to be well-versed in Chinese literature, and often took up some form of artistic practice. This was to balance out the more aggressive aspects of their martial training - otherwise known as the concept of bunburyōdō 文武両道 or 'the dual way of literary/cultural and martial arts,' to translate it loosely.

In kembu, dancers would dance with swords and fans while they or someone recited Chinese or Japanese-style poetry, perhaps in form of a song. Furthermore, many of the dance movements are based on Noh-style movements. One could argue that kembu perhaps is the concept of bunburyōdō manifest!

Samurai Kembu Theatre is a dojo in Kyoto where visitors to the city can take lessons in this elegant sword dance. It's a rare opportunity to learn how to handle a katana, and feel as though you've been transported to an earlier era. Costumes are optional, but they add that extra element of fun and drama to your experience. (Think of the photos at the end of it!) Or, if you'd rather not learn how to dance with a sword, you can simply watch a performance by the resident kembu masters - it's rather theatrical, and very entertaining! Lessons and demonstrations are conducted in English, and we highly recommend it as a fun and engaging way to learn about this aspect of Japanese culture.

For more details, contact DMC Japan to discuss ideas, locations and rates.
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