Tokyo Budokan | The arena for traditional Japanese martial arts
You must have heard of the world famous Nippon Budokan Hall in Japan, known as a performance hall for cultural events such as music concerts and sports events. Have you ever heard of the Tokyo Budokan?!
Yes, that is correct the Tokyo Budokan 東京武道館, in north Tokyo.
In Japan, traditionally, the Budokan is an arena for martial arts, so there are many Budokan buildings in Japan. The main Nippon Budokan Hall near the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo is also known for martial arts, but it is mainly used for big music concerts with the mega-seating capacity. On the other hand, the Tokyo Budokan is a genuine arena for martial arts and is only exclusively for martial arts. The Tokyo Budokan is not so big, but is unique in structure. Besides, it is a great place to visit if you feel like experiencing real Japanese martial arts.
The Tokyo Budokan is used for many martial tournaments and is also a training facility for martial artists. If you ask "Kengaku dekimasuka" and sign your name at the reception in the building on the left of the arena, you can look around the inside of the arena. You will see people practicing various martial arts like Kendo 剣道, Judo 柔道, Karate 空手, Kyudo 弓道 and others.
*Kengaku means making a little tour or having a look around. To do Kengaku at Tokyo Budokan, it is better to make prior inquiry as there is a case you are not allowed to enter the facilities when they are occupied for private use. Also, note that photography is basically not allowed inside of the building.
Admission is free for the free tour. But please, don't forget to take off your shoes when you enter the building and make sure your socks have no holes in them.
As for Kyudo (Japanese archery), there is a shooting gallery next to the arena. On the day I visited, a Kyudo Tournament was being held and I couldn't go inside the gallery since players need complete silence for the high degree of concentration required. Only players were allowed to go inside.
A Kendo Tournament held at Tokyo Budokan.
Unfortunately, the Tokyo Budokan is not located in the center of Tokyo. It is located in Adachi-ku, in the north of Tokyo. If you have a strong interest in the martial arts of Japan, this is a must place to visit.
For those wanting to experience traditional Japanese sports, there are lesson programs offered at Tokyo Budokan. The lesson is held in the evening between 18:30 and 20:00, basically open to people living in Tokyo. These lessons are available only in Japanese. The tuition is reasonable and somewhere around 500 JPY, depends on the lesson you take, and you can sign up on site. To find details, available programs, the schedule etc., check their website SmileSports organized by Tokyo Sport Benefits Corporation. http://smilesports.jp/
(Lesson Programs at Tokyo Budokan : http://smilesports.jp/category/5.html)
The free paper SmilesSports may be available at community centers and libraries in Tokyo.
Tokyo Budokan Location
3-20-1 Ayase Adachi-ku Tokyo
The closest subway Station is Ayase of the Chiyoda subway line. It is only 5 minutes walk from the station.