Akizuki Samurai Armor Experience
Patrol the streets as a Samurai
Patrolling the streets for bad guys has never been as fun as this. You can experience walking the streets in your very own “Kaachu”, a samurai style armor, equipped with a katana to ward of the enemy. Although it may look heavy, the armor wears pretty light which makes it easy to walk in.
Walking around in our Kaachus, I have to admit, I felt like I was above the law for an hour. I would imagine me walking around just like the Samurais did protecting Akizuki from any trespassers. It was truly a fun experience as I held my sword close to my hand, at the ready.
|Attraction||Akizuki Samurai Armor Experience|
|Location||Asakura City, Fukuoka Prefecture 838-0011|
|Phone||0946-24-6758(Asakura City Board of Tourism)|
Akizuki Middle School Kendo Practice
Practicing to be a warrior
Kendo is not only a traditional Japanese sport that has been around since the 11th century, it is THE Japanese sport of Fukuoka. With only three ways to strike your foe (head, chest, and stomach) your mind, body, and soul have to be in sync to be able to defeat your opponent. Even when you get the chance to strike, landing a hit takes lots of patience and accuracy. Akizuki’s middle school students kindly allowed us to join their practice. It was quite a treat to see middle schoolers scream at the top of their lungs as they lunged at their opponent. The bamboo sticks, also called “shinai” in Japanese, vary in weight depending on your rank. With adults using Shinais up to 440grams (.97 lbs), what might seem light at first gets heavy real quickly after 10 whacks. Practicing with the students made this trip a memorable experience.
We could see the passion they had for Kendo and their love for Akizuki through their practice because of how willing they were to show us perfect form. A word of advice, make sure to bring an extra pair of clothes because you will sweat as much as the Nile River.
A Traditional Taiko Only for Samurai
Kendo is not the only activity that Samurais focused on. They also practiced “Taiko”, a Japanese percussion instrument that has been around for many centuries. With over 4,000 different taiko ensembles, the popularity of Taiko has been growing rapidly every year. Also who doesn't mind beating their stress away as hard as you can, literally. This brings us to Ko-getsu-ryu taiko. A specific syle of taiko that Samurais performed. The main difference is the speed of the tempo and also the drum sticks, “bachi” in Japanese. Kogetsuryu’s bachi are smaller than regular taiko bachi. The tempo is also much more slower and spaced out. Each strike has a particular time structure that brings a distinct sound to the ear.
Once the era of Samurais had died down the tradition of Kogetsyryu Taiko was preserved by a group in Akizuki town. Keeping the culture alive, a group of 30 or so woman practice hard to be able to play flawlessly during live performances. Again, like all things Samurai, a level of concentration and inner-body connectioness is key to being able to do Kogetsuryu. We had the opportunity to not only see a live performance, but learn a quick ensemble that took less than 10 min to learn. Alright, we weren’t perfect at it, and we did stop a lot to check if we were wrong, but still I think we did fairly well for learning on the fly. The instructors were kind and were also able to use simple English to teach us how to be one with the drum. They are also still looking for members so when you visit Akizuki town, make sure to sign up !
|Attraction||Kogetsuryu Taiko Experience “Samurai Style Taiko” “Akizuki Community Center”|
|Location||669 Akizuki, Asakura City, Fukouka Prefecture, Japan|
|Phone||0946-24-6758(Asakura City Board of Tourism)|
Tea Room, Japanese Archery, Traditional Meal pt. I
Matcha tea in Japan is not like how you might think of it. My first experience of matcha was a mochi matcha ice cream treat from a supermarket in my local neighborhood. Fast Forward to adulthood and I am sipping on matcha green tea that was prepared right before my eyes by the sweetest elderly lady in the world. She first showed us how it's made and then gave us full reign to make our own matcha. The dojo is not just for firing arrows but also for mentally relaxing your brain with matcha. The dojo has a few rooms where you can make tea while looking at a bountiful green garden.
If looking at a beautiful garden doesn’t calm you, the matcha will sure do because this tea is relaxing magic. You take your first sip and a rush of bitterness hits your tongue first. You quickly search for water but instead you find a delectable sweet waiting for you. You take a bite of the snack and another immediate rush of sweetness hits your taste buds. Being able to make matcha takes years of practice. Not only is making it essential but the way you present it is also important. Relax your body before you learn how to shoot arrows, the perfect way to be one with yourself.
Tea Room, Japanese Archery, Traditional Meal pt.II
Japanese archery, also known as Kyudo, has been around since the Yayoi period ( A very very long time). This means that Kyudo in Japan is taken extremely serious, with hours of practice being devoted to just holding the bow properly. It is said that it can take a person up to 6 months of just practicing how to use the bow until they are allowed to use a beginner's bow. This is to prevent from people accidently firing sideways and hitting something or to my surprise, someone. I had the opportunity to step into the world of Kyudo with a 8-dan (the highest ranking) master. Shinohara Sensei presented himself in a cool, calm, and collected manner, you could tell by the way he spoke and walked that he had control of his spirit. Being able to be in touch with yourself is an important skill when it comes to moving up in the ranks of any Japanese traditional martial arts. After seeing Shinohara sensei fire his first arrow, it felt as if the world stopped for a second. The process it took to just set-up, let alone shoot the arrow, took about 30 seconds.
It takes serious amounts of skill, concentration, and discipline to be able to handle such a large bow and arrow. We then had the chance to try our hand at Kyudo ourselves. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to touch the big boys bows and arrows, but I was given the opportunity to use the beginner ones.
Tea Room, Japanese Archery, Traditional Meal pt.III
Japanese Traditional Meal
Japanese traditional food has a reputation for being delicious, decorative, and devine. The word is “Kai-seki.” No one of the same exist but if you do get a chance to eat Kai-seiki, I would not hesitate to try it. Partaking in Kai-seki, will live your stomach satisfied and your spirit rejuvenated. This specific Kai-seki meal was full of freshly caught fish and vegetables. Every piece of food had its purpose, and let me tell you that the ginger rice was a revelation. What stuck out to me the most though was the green peach. Above the pink ginger you see a small seed like nut. To my astonishment it was an un-ripened peach. I was hesitant at first but the first bite tasted the same as a matured peach. The texture and color were a tad bit different but the taste was amplified, and boy was I sad that it was quickly over. At only 3,500 yen, an insanely low price, you get a variety of freshly prepared vegetables, fish, and delectable sides that all connect to each other in a certain way. After trying your best at Kyudo, rleax and eat Kai-seki, a decision you will not regret!
|Attraction||Kyudo Dojo - Japanese Traditional Food (kansui-kyofu kai-seki)|
|Location||709 Yamami, Asakura City, Fukuoka Prefecture|
|Operating Hours||11:00 ～ 21:00|
|Closed||Every Mondays are closed.|