Samurai Kembu Theater

September 21, 2019

by Yusa Inoue & Misaki Horita

Most tourists have enjoyed shopping sprees in Japan, but recently they have become interested in the experience of traditional Japanese culture. One such experience is kembu, which is a traditional Japanese stage performance art with the katana, or Japanese sword.

To understand kembu, you should first understand something called shigin, which is to combine poetry – especially Chinese poetry and Japanese poetry – with music. Kembu and poetry are said to dance in accordance with Shinto. And when a person dances with a sword, that is basically kembu. Without a sword, we might call it poetry dance. In the movie, The Last Samurai, you can see an actor performing kembu on the day before the battle.

Samurai Kembu Theatre

Many foreigners imagine that there are samurai in Japan, even now. About 70% of foreigners come to Japan with this image in their heads. However, of course, even though we have lived in Kyoto for a long time, we have never seen any samurai while walking around. However, we understand the desire to see a real samurai, so we suggest a place where visitors can not meet any samurai, but can feel like they have. It is a place where visitors can experience being a samurai and seeing a sword dance, It’s called Samurai Kembu Theater, and it is located in Sanjo street. In this theater, visitors can take a lesson to be like a samurai, and they can wear samurai’s clothes, and then take photographs to commemorate the experience.

In this way, visitors can enjoy the traditional culture of Japan while making a precious memory.

Types of Courses

The Full Course

The Full Course allows visitors to experience the Samurai Spirit by performing kembu. In this course, they will learn the basic techniques of kembu, such as handling a Japanese sword, performing slashing techniques, and employing some simple samurai actions. They will also learn the correct way of bowing and walking in traditional Japanese arts. The course is completed with a performance by each participant. The will perform with their sword on stage, accompanied by the song of a poem written by a samurai. There is some time allocated for picture-taking after changing into the costumes. The instructor will also help participants by showing them some cool Samurai poses.

The Light Course

In this course, participants can learn and practice some aspects of samurai etiquette, as well as practice basic kembu, including how to use the Japanese sword. Also, there is some time allocated for picture-taking after changing into the costumes. As in the Full Course, the instructor will help participants get into some cool Samurai poses.

Feedback from participants is often enthusiastic. Not only can participants learn about the history and tradition of samurai, but they can also have a lot of fun doing it. Even better, they have great photographs of themselves that can prolong their memories for many years to come. Also, the instructors speak good English, so visitors will have no problem communicating with them. Moreover, Samurai Kembu Theater was chosen as one of the top five sightseeings spots in Kyoto in 2016.

Conclusion

As you can see, we highly recommend the Samurai Kembu Theater to visitors to Kyoto. Visiting Kyoto should be more than just shopping and temple viewing. We think it is also necessary to spend time and money for memorable experiences, like the ones offered at Samurai Kembu Theater. In fact, even most Japanese people do not know how to dance Kembu. Furthermore, there are even plenty of people who do not even know the meaning of Kembu. Therefore, you should consider adding a visit to Samurai Kembu Theater to your travel itinerary for Kyoto.