Katana Training & Omuta Exploration
Fukuoka Prefecture & Kumamoto Prefecture
Swords are not to be played with, it is though when you come to Japan and visit Fukuoka Shin-Minato Soba and Katana restaurant. We took a trip to Omuta town, which boast divine Samurai culture throughout its streets. Keeping things simple, there are two activities you can do here, eat and sword.
Note:You will be able to use a Katana in the Dojo in the next building over.
Matsunaga Sensei, a world renowned swordsmith from Kumamoto prefecture is known for his flawless katana masterpieces. From the top Sumo wrestler in Japan to famous actors, Matsunaga Sensei has made a Katana for everyone and their grandmother. We had the opportunity to try first-hand at wielding one of his own Katanas. With a simple instruction to slice diagonally at the rolled up floor mat, my first attempt was a fail. it was embarrassing to say the least. as all my friends were looking at me but Matsunaga Sensei assured me that all I had to do was look a little under my striking zone and slice. My second attempt came with a piece of the mat sliced cleanly from the stand. It felt great, and Matsunaga Sensei acnkowledge my ability. I have never wielded a sword but if you want to try yourself, I recommend visiting Shin Minato Soba and Katana Restaurant for top tier food and fun. An experience that will be one you can tell your friends.
LOCATION: 3-chōme-2-9 Honmachi Omuta, Fukuoka 836-0046
OPERATING HOURS: 11:00 - 23:00
PHONE: +81 944-54-3710
URL: http://www.s-minato.co.jp/ (Japanese, English coming soon)
Matsunaga Sensei invited our group to his house so we can see where he makes the Katanas he is so famous for. When we arrived, the first building we came upon was a medium-sized room where he instructs his students on Katana wielding. He had a wall full of pictures that were of all the people he met from his time as a swordsmith. Even though you might of never heard of him, I am sure you have definitely seen his Katanas some time in your life. His love for foreigners showed through his bright smile as he was showing us a picture of when he taught a group of Taiwanese students who came to visit him.
After hearing some of his funny stories about his adventures with teaching, he showed us where the magic happens. It was a small workstation, with various tools all lined up all over the wall. He had a huge furnace which was said to go up to 2552F. It is insanely hot, but this is the amount of heat it takes to craft a Katana. Although he didn’t show us a life presentation of how he made one, he did walk us through step by step. You can also reserve in advance here, if you would you like to see a real Katana being made. It takes about 3-5 years to learn about how to make a Katana, and then you have to take one hardest test in Japan to be able to be considered a legal swordsmith. Luckily for Matsunaga Sensei, he passed the test on the first try, he mentioned as he gave a laughter of relief.
Lastly, we were asked to join him and Ms. Matsunaga for tea. I do ikebana, a type of Japanese flower arrangement, so I immediately caught of her flowers that were neatly placed in the door entrance. We clicked instantly and talked about various topics regarding life adventures. What was meant to be an hour tour of his work station ended up being a 2 hour hanging out session, I would love to go back again and take another whack at using the Katana.
LOCATION: 1907-80 Kawato, Arao City, Kumamoto Prefecture 864-0031
OPERATING HOURS: N/A
PHONE: +81 968-68-2250
URL: http://www.taiken-kumamoto.jp/promoters/detail/88 (Japanese)