I had less than 2 days to explore Tokyo, and I made up my mind to attend a batto (Japanese Swordsmanship) trial class with HiSUi Tokyo, a multi-art school within the shopping district of Ginza.
A month before the class, I made a reservation via e-mail and agreed to pay the hefty sum of 14,040 JPY (10,800 JPY for the class + 3,240 JPY for the Hakama) upon arrival.
I felt nervous and excited at the same time. It was going to be another first for me, but I wasn’t sure if the cost would make me say “it’s worth it” at the end of the 30-minute session.
Now that I’m back home, can I finally say it’s worth it? Let’s just say I’m glad I took the class, and I don’t regret shelling out that amount of money.
HiSUi Tokyo is located on the 5th Floor of the same building where the clothing store DAKS can be found, opposite Mizuho Bank’s Ginza Branch.
It’s a 10- to 15-minute walk from Tokyo Station. If you’re taking the subway, get off at Ginza Station. From there, HiSUi is only 5 minutes away on foot.
Arrival at HiSUi Tokyo
At exactly 2:00 in the afternoon, I arrived at the school. “Thanks for coming,” the guy at the reception said.
I was given two forms to fill out and sign, one was for basic information and another was a waiver. When I was done, my payment was collected.
Immediately after, I was led to the batto classroom. That day, I was the only student.
A lady – the same one at the reception – came and gave me a basket. She asked me to put my watch, sling bag, phone, and long sleeves in it. I obeyed like it was my first day in school.
For 5 minutes, she dressed me up in a Hakama, identifying each of the parts while I stood there watching the seemingly complicated process. I tried to memorize all the Japanese terms she said, but after only a few seconds, they slipped my memory.
When the dressing-up part was over, I was introduced to my teacher, a kind-looking man who I’m guessing is in his 60’s. He was followed by the same guy at the reception who would act as the interpreter.
There were three main parts of the class.
First, I was taught some basic moves and positions. The first one was how to properly position my legs to add power to my cuts. I was also taught the correct way to hold a katana sword, how to draw the sword from the sheath, and how to put it back. My teacher introduced Japanese terms for these moves, but once again, they slipped my memory.
During this time, we practiced using a “fake” katana.
Next, my teacher demonstrated how to effectively cut a rolled tatami mat using a real katana. Of course, he didn’t end the lesson without me doing it myself.
Before I made a perfect cut, I made two failed attempts. What went wrong? As explained to me, I didn’t keep the sword straight when I swang it at the mat.
For the last part, my teacher showed me the proper way of cleaning (and maintaining) a katana to make sure it lasts for centuries.
When it was over, we performed the “saikeirei” bow (sitting position) to officially end the class.
Before I left the school, I had a small chat with my teacher. I was glad to hear that he had been to Manila once, a long time ago when Marcos was still our President.