Are you a big fan of Japanese history? Maybe you’ve seen a few samurai movies? Well, now you have a chance to bite off a bit of that experience in person. Recently, a real samurai castle was converted into a hotel. It doesn’t stop there, though. They’ve added a few extras to make the experience truly immersive.
In 1888, the extensive deterioration lead to the castle keep spurred it’s demolition. However, Ozu Castle saw an accurate reconstruction in 2004. They put it back together piece by piece, using the traditional techniques from the era of its original construction. To properly portray it in its former glory, they used photographs and diagrams.
Playing the Part
Aside from the complex itself, the hotel staff takes part in role-play to liven the experience. When you arrive, the employees welcome you as they would any samurai – with horns and fully dressed in warrior uniforms and kimonos. You’re also encouraged to dress up. Don’t worry; they provide you with everything you need to take part in the experience.
To take things a step further, they provide unique entertainment. The immersion goes deep when dancers take the stage and present a Shinto ritual ceremonial dance, known as Kagura. This ritual has performers don intricately designed masks and clothing. While there are various Kagura types, you can expect the Mikagura, an iteration dedicated to the Imperial harvest festival.
The 14th and 16th centuries, when most castles and keeps were constructed, lacked many of the modern conveniences we have today. The original hotel rooms don’t have individual bathrooms, for example. To remove the frustration of sharing an outhouse, the owners have installed 11 new rooms with bathrooms and a large bathhouse.
They’ve also started collaborating with a nearby food joint, Garyu Sanso, to provide guests with a fantastic breakfast. This spot is over 100 years old and adds an extra touch of authenticity to the experience. You can still enjoy lunch and dinner at the castle. There are both modern and more antiquated Japanese dishes. This incorporation is to ensure hotel guests have more choices for their eating experience.
The rooms have also been heavily modernized. They have electricity, some chairs and tables, and a comfortable mattress. While these aren’t the traditional furnishings, they’re almost a necessity for most guests.
Making a Reservation
While the overall experience might be quite enticing, keep in mind that it’s quite expensive – reservations for two guests average $9000 per night. Additional guests, a maximum of 6 allowed, will run you an extra $650 each. But, if you want the authentic experience, it’s worth it.