Two-lifetime kendoka, supported by the Kendo World magazine team present to you the kendo opportunity of a lifetime:
The Kendo Tour
Take Your Kendo to Japan
Fri. April 21st ~ Wed. April 26th, 2023, in Shizuoka, Japan
This Kendo Tour will be based in the heart of Japan’s tea country, Shizuoka. During the Kendo Tour you’ll be guided around Shizuoka as you get to train at some fantastic dojo and visit some beautiful sights.
Have you heard of the term “musha shugyo”? It is described by the All-Japan Kendo Federation as:
“The act of a warrior travelling around to various districts and risking his life in bujutsu practice and training. Today it refers to visiting and practicing at dojo in various places.”
Back in the day, swordsmen would pack their bags and travel around Japan seeking out opponents for duels against whom they would test their skills. Even today, kendoka travel around and visit different dojo for a number of reasons. Maybe they are seeking out certain sensei to train with, getting in some much-needed practice before a grading, or like the warriors of old, testing their mettle against fresh faces. So, why don’t you come to Japan for your own musha-shugyo? If it was good enough for Miyamoto Musashi, it’s good enough for you!
With “Kendo Tours”, come with us on a journey of discovery, by getting off the beaten track to cross swords around Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan with kendoka from all walks of life in several “machi dojo”. “Machi Dojo” are quite simply the life blood of kendo in Japan. These are the local neighbourhood kendo clubs that are found in the villages, towns, and cities throughout Japan. Members will most likely be of a similar make up to your club back home, such as business owners, dentists, government workers, teachers, builders, farmers – kendoka just like you! And just like you, they fit their passion for kendo around their busy lives.
The Kendo Tour would like to offer you the opportunity to have a different kendo experience. You will, of course, get to train with experienced 7-dan and 8-dan sensei, but you will also find 1- to 5-dan kendoka of all ages, men and women, just like home. Like you, they also enjoy the challenge that kendo offers.
During the Kendo Tour, not only will you be training in machi dojo around Japan, you’ll also get to do various sightseeing and cultural activities while you’re here. The tour is primarily for kendoka, but if your significant other can’t believe that you’re wanting to spend more time and money on kendo, bring them along, too, as they can take part in the sightseeing activities.
Dates for the 2023 Tour
Meet in the late afternoon of Friday April 21 and finish on April 26th (Wednesday mid-morning). Many of us will then go on to Kyoto after the tour to take part in or watch the Kyoto Taikai.
Day 1: Friday April 21, 2023
After arriving in Japan, there will be a welcome party Near Associate Hotel Shizuoka City. This fantastic hotel is only a one-minute walk from Shizuoka Station. Shizuoka station is on the main Shinkansen line between Tokyo and Osaka, so if you’re flying into either Haneda (Tokyo) or Kansai (Osaka) airports, it’s very easy to get to. Please make sure you arrive at the hotel between 2pm and 6pm. To make sure that you arrive in Shizuoka with no difficulty, easy-to-follow travel instructions will be issued to all travellers before they arrive. The welcome party will start at 7pm and will be a wonderful chance to meet, greet, and get acquainted with your fellow kenshi and travellers.
Information on Shizuoka and its highlights can be found here.
Day 2: Saturday April 22, 2023
The Kendo Tour proper starts with a very early morning for the first keiko session of the tour. From the hotel it’s a 15-minute dedicated Kendo Tour bus to Yokokan Dojo, which is situated in the middle of the picturesque grounds of the beautiful Gokoku Shrine. Asa-geiko starts at 7am and runs until 8am, with kenshi who range from 2-dan to 8-dan.
After keiko it’s back to the hotel for a shower, breakfast, and a chance to relax.
During the morning we will take a walk to the neighborhood kendo shop before boarding our tour bus to head to Fugetsuro Restaurant, famous for its kaiseki style of Japanese cuisine.
After lunch it’s a 30-minute Kendo Tour bus ride along the stunning coastline to Yaizu City. Here we will visit the 2nd largest freezer in the northern hemisphere - yes, freezer! Here you will understand what all the fuss is about when it comes to tuna as a delicacy, with some fish costing $50,000!). Some tasting will be offered.
It's off to our next hotel for a rest. Then at 6pm we leave for Inoue Dojo (Chionkenshukan), home of the late Hanshi 8-dan Inoue Yoshihiko-sensei. Keiko starts at 7pm with kata practice and then free keiko from 8pm to 9pm. Chionkenshukan is a small but very active machi dojo. Graham, one of the organizers of the Kendo Tour, is a member.
Finally, it's back to the hotel for a local dinner.
The late Hanshi 8-dan Inoue Yoshihiko-sensei
The end of a typical keiko session at Chionkenshukan
Day 3: Sunday April 23, 2023
It’s another early morning with a 30-minute bus ride to Iwakura Dojo for their Sunday morning keiko. This keiko is led by one or two 8-dan sensei.
Once keiko is finished, we return to the hotel for breakfast and check out. We then head off to experience rural Shizuoka via a stopover in Shimada City to visit one of Japan`s most famous sword sharpeners. This will be a real treat and more information is on its way. In the early afternoon we will venture deep into the tea growing area of Kawane.
Booking into the Kawane Hotel it will be time to enjoy an onsen followed by a buffet meal and a good night's sleep.
Kendo Tour’s Graham with a delegation from China in 2015 at the Fujieda Police School dojo with head instructor 8-dan Ishikawa-sensei.
Day 4: April 24, 2023
There’ll be a chance for an onsen bath before or after breakfast. We then take a leisurely ride to a tea plantation where we will learn about the local tea industry, try some of the local teas, and enjoy a locally made bento for lunch.
After leaving the plantation, we will check out the cool little village of Ieyama. There will be a visit to the local 110-year-old sake store and 105-year-old miso factory.
Then it is off into the wildness of Sumatakyo. Once we arrive in this amazing mountainside village you will have a chance to visit the bridge of dreams if you wish to do the one-hour (return) hike.
That night we will stay at a stunning ryokan, enjoy a wonderful meal and yet another type of onsen.
Sumatakyo "swing bridge"
Day 5: April 25, 2023
There’ll be a chance for an onsen bath before or after breakfast. Then we will go for an amazing train ride together with the chance of experiencing some fantastic scenery in and around the Shizuoka high country.
Then there's a bus ride back to Yaizu where we check in to the stunning Yaizu Grand Hotel.
There is time back at the hotel for a rest before we proceed at 4.30pm to Chionkenshukan Dojo to meet Alex Bennett for a lecture and special seminar before the regular Tuesday night keiko session at the dojo.
Founder of Kendo World magazine, author, public speaker, and martial artist, Alex is one the leading non-Japanese kenshi in the world. He also has a deep and meaningful relationship with Shizuoka kendo.
A sayonara (farewell) party will then be held at a local Japanese izakaya (pub) after keiko has finished. It’s then back to the Yaizu Grand Hotel for the final night’s stay.
A saiyonara (farewell) party will then be held at a local Japanese izakaya (pub) after keiko has finished. It’s then back to the Yaizu Grand Hotel for the final night’s stay.
Day 6: April 26, 2023 - Final Day morning
If you’ve not over-exerted yourself the night before, there’s a chance for one more morning training at Yokokan Dojo.
Check-out of the hotel is at around 11am. The Kendo Tour team will be on hand to make sure that you get on the right train or bus to get from Yaizu to your final destination.
For more information on the price, terms and conditions, and a detailed itinerary, please email graham directly on firstname.lastname@example.org Kendo Tours homepage here.
We hope to see you in Shizuoka in April 2023!