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Ever wanted to run through a fancy hotel with a sword? At The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, clients participating in the Samurai Experience are dressed in samurai gear and learn katana (sword) basics such as how to unsheathe, wield and sheathe before practicing a few sword-swishing routines in one of the hotel’s elegant suites or multiuse spaces.
Rest assured — The 75-minute experience is not touristy, but offers participants a hands-on insight into warrior culture and etiquette. Classes are led by a local samurai master who ends the class with kenbu, a sword dance once practiced by warriors aiming to improve technical skills. Our instructor, Auga Magari, has practiced the art for more than 20 years with her family, and dazzled my group with her poetic, yet deadly moves. Then she carefully posed us in warrior stances that made even me — the most uncoordinated budding samurai ever — appear intimidating for the camera.
No prior experience is necessary, and sessions are customizable to accommodate all age groups, but do expect to perform lunges, walk briskly and jump around — in a kimono and toe socks. As with all The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto’s 19 guest activities, sessions will be photographed and overseen by a guest relations staffer. Participants will receive a framed photograph of their session along with printed images and a thumb drive of all photos.
Classes cost $65 per person, are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 p.m. and should be booked in advance.