With the Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan between September 20th and October 2nd, Tinggly is proud to highlight an authentic Japanese cultural experience, the Last Samurai Tour in the buzzing city of Kyoto.

As part of the family of Tinggly experience gifts, the Last Samurai Tour is sure to give the recipient a host of great stories and memories to last a lifetime.

Photos by Ignatius Koh

Meet Joe Okada, recognized as Japan’s Last Samurai, and one of the most entertaining tour guides in the entire country. If you want to get close up and personal with some of genuine Japanese customs and traditions, Joe is the perfect introduction.

With over 56 years as a tour guide under his (Samurai) belt, at the age of 89, Joe offers an authentic cultural experience not to be found in most other guided tours. Speaking fluent English, which he learned while working as a driver in the United States almost sixty years ago, Joe dressed as katana-wielding Samurai exposes his tour groups to the usually hidden sights of Japan’s one-time capital, Kyoto.

Once home to 72 of Japan’s emperors, Joe gives visitors a glimpse into both the past and present of this vibrant hub of modern life. Known as the City of Ten Thousand Shrines, Joe will introduce you to some of the most well-preserved examples of these precious places of worship including an authentic Buddhist temple and an exquisite Shinto shrine.

On the Last Samurai tour, the ever-smiling Joe will introduce you to elements of ancient Japanese culture and customs. You will visit a selection of traditional workshops specializing in wood engraving, along with ink and brush creation used in the ancient arts of calligraphy and decorative screen painting. 

Photos by Ignatius Koh

Another great highlight of the tour is a visit to the superb Kyoto Imperial Garden Forest, the home of Japan’s Imperial family until 1868 when the royal residence was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. Here you’ll get a chance to experience the serenity of the gardens with its decorative ponds and traditional bridges offering stunning views of the Imperial Palace.

After enjoying the peace and quiet of the Palace gardens there’s time to visit the traditional Shushi-tei teahouse to experience the ancient art of tea so revered by the Japanese people.

Following a tasty sampling of traditional produce at a local market comes the thrilling highlight of Joe Okada’s Last Samurai Tour, his highly-skillful Samurai sword show. Joe will explain the importance of the Samurai’s Katana, the sword forever associated with the martial arts of the legendary warriors.

Photos by Ignatius Koh

This is one of the most unique things to do in Kyoto, and if you’re lucky Joe might even ask you to participate in his performance as a volunteer. But, be warned, volunteering might involve having a watermelon placed on your stomach and sliced expertly by one of the sharpest blades in the world. Not for the faint-hearted. However, don’t worry, he hasn’t killed anyone just yet.