The way of the wee warrior – Kyoto with kids

Kyoto with kids - Samurai Kembu Theater
Bushidō! No, it is not slang for cow poo. It is the moral code of the Samurai. You see, Japan’s samurai class wasn’t just some Tyler Durdenless Fight Club with razer-sharp Katanas. In fact, the way of the samurai was more about morality and doing the right thing than it was about biffo.

Today, though Japanese ethics are still based on the spirit of Bushido, I’m happy to report that they’ve swapped their horses for the faster and infinitely more comfortable Shinkansen bullet train that we board for Kyoto using our convenient JR Rail Pass.

We’re off to Kyoto on a warrior hunt. And by we I mean Raffles. I’m actually here for the temples. Sugarpuff has her eye on the cat cafés, and Mr Eats World is more interested in necking his next Asahi. But these things will have to wait, because my feisty flashing blade has a date with a kembu master.

Kembu is the traditional martial art used by the samurai. The word kembu literally means sword dance and in the Samurai Kembu Theater dojo, a hakama clad Raffles certainly gets his groove on with his katana. In feudal times, the samurais combined swordplay with dance to achieve agility and mental strength.

Kyoto with kids - Samurai in training at Samurai Kembu Theater

After an hour long lesson in samurai sword skills and etiquette, he has all the decorum and mental agility of a rabid monkey, but Raffles is handling his sword like the star of a Kurosawa movie … at least if there was a Kurosawa movie set in a primary school.

Raffles gets his samurai on at Samurai Kembu

Having worked up a warrior-like appetite, he follows his lesson in swordplay with one in noodles at Menbakaichidai’s hands on Ramen University where, after inhaling a bowl of their famous black ramen, he learns how to make a less combustible version for himself.

Raffles eating Menbakaichidai's balckened ramen

There is so much to do in Kyoto with kids. Especially those kids that are warrior obsessed. Refuelled after our ramen rampage, we head to Toei Kyoto Studio Park, a working TV and movie set famous for its jidaigeki period films. It also doubles as a kinda corny Edo period theme park where random ninjas leap along the roofs and battling samurai burst from doorways and windows in pantomime style.

Samurai skirmish at Toei Movie Park

Needless to say, it’s only a matter of moments before my little shogun – never one to shy away from a sword-assisted dust up – joins in and is taking on the bad guys in a live-action skirmish.

Raffles gets in on the Edo action at Teio Movie Park Kyoto

While they use their extensive martial arts training, Raffles defeats them with wanton silliness and they fall to their pantomime deaths from laughter.

After a busy day of warrioring, we return to the tranquility of the elegant Hyatt Regency. Sandwiched between Ancient shrines and the extraordinary Kyoto Museum in the historic Higashiyama Shichijo district, the kids are made feel very welcome in this striking hotel.

Hyatt regency in Kyoto makes kids feel welcome

At our decadent digs we are greeted by Mr Yokoyama, the hotel’s indcredibly charming General Manager who, after hearing of Raffles’ newly acquired qualifications, hires him on the spot. Tongue firmly in cheek – he claims to have had his eye out for a pint-sized samurai security guard come ramen chef for quite some time. But then who hasn’t?

Raffles and Mr Yokoyama, The lovely General Manager of Hyatt Regency Kyoto

And best of all he promises to pay him in the addictive green tea and yuzu éclairs from the Hyatt Regency’s Pastry boutique. Winning!

een tea and yuzu éclairs from the Hyatt Regency’s Pastry boutique

Just when we thought our battle weary warrior was spent, the hotel concierge tells us that he has secured us a reservation at Ninja Kyoto Restaurant and Labyrinth and once more my little loon is on a mission, round housing his way out the door.

I must confess that I’m expecting kitsch and Ninja Kyoto delivers in spades.

edible shuriken at Ninja Kyoto

“Real” ninja’s light up explosive escargot bombs and we nibble on edible shuriken until the lights dim and they disappear, as ninja do.

The live-action extravaganza at Ninja Kyoto

We don’t see them again until they drop from the ceiling in a flurry of noise and smoke for an arse-kicking live-action extravaganza of martial arts, magic, acrobatics, and aerial badassery directed by Tetsuro Shimaguchi, the choreographer of Kill Bill.

After his day as a Samurai in training, our wee warrior has embraced the spirit of bushidō. In fact, he’s full of it.

The way of the wee Warrior. Raffles gets his bushido on


12 Comments on The way of the wee warrior – Kyoto with kids

  1. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    November 12, 2015 at 2:55 pm (8 years ago)

    Well i bet if Raffles though that Japan was great before he visited, I think what he actually did must have blown his mind! 😀

  2. Christine
    November 12, 2015 at 5:49 pm (8 years ago)

    So much fun! I loved visiting Kyoto pre-kids. I will forward to going back with the kiddo.

      November 18, 2015 at 4:58 pm (8 years ago)

      Somehow it seemed even better with the kids in tow! x

  3. Ai Sakura
    November 13, 2015 at 10:16 am (8 years ago)

    Oh man this brings back memories of visiting Toei Studio Park!! It’s really like right out of an Edo period haha… Raffles should continue on his training when he returns to Aust 🙂

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

      November 13, 2015 at 11:25 pm (8 years ago)

      He’d love to but I’ve not found anywhere he can go. Will keep hunting though, Kembu is a very mindful.

  4. Sally@Toddlers on Tour
    November 13, 2015 at 11:51 am (8 years ago)

    What a fun way to get the kids in the spirit and culture of the country. I think my young man (and possibly the old one as well) would quite enjoy learning the art of the samurai.

      November 18, 2015 at 4:57 pm (8 years ago)

      Yes, Mr Eats World seemed to have as much fun as Raffles. 😉

  5. RobRob @TravelLatte(.net)
    November 16, 2015 at 1:52 am (8 years ago)

    What great fun! Though Kyoto is distant on our horizon and will be kid-free for us, you’ve added to our notes. Very glad we found you through #WednesdayWanderlust!

      November 18, 2015 at 4:57 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks so much. Ninjas and Samurais aren’t just for kids you know 🙂

  6. Amanda Kendle
    November 21, 2015 at 8:00 pm (8 years ago)

    Oh, I think I went to that studio park place, I was taken by local friends and don’t know what it was called, but it sounds the same and was really bizarre! Raff looks like a natural at kembu. Do they at least have a kendo club near you? My boyfriend at the time learnt kendo in Japan (thanks to Star Wars) and then found kendo clubs in Slovakia, Germany and back here in Oz. Also quite mindful. (Also, what’s the difference between them?? Must google!)

      November 27, 2015 at 6:46 am (8 years ago)

      It was bizarre. I’d love for Raff to take up kembu or Kendo (not sure if there’s a great deal of difference)


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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