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Omotenashi Bushotai Samurai

Nagoya Castle's samurai performance team

Aichi Prefecture has long been recognized as the home of the Samurai, particularly during the Warring States Period, where a majority of the heroes were born in the area. Heroes such as the original Three Unifiers of Japan, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, and their commanders, Maeda Toshiie resplendent in his golden armor, Kato Kiyomasa prominent in his tall Eboshi type helmet with golden circle crests either side, and Maeda Keiji in bright red armor and trademark spear.

To further promote Nagoya as a tourist destination, the Nagoya Omotenashi Bushotai (Band of Good Looking Warrior Commanders) was formed in 2009. Auditions were held and 6 main characters were chosen for their looks, naturally, their interest in Japanese history, and their ability to maintain that character. Dressed in replica samurai armor worn by their counterpart characters, (in the hotter months, these suits of armor are swapped for more sensible and more comfortable kimono or traditional warriors’ “hakama” flaired trousers) this team can be found wandering the grounds of Nagoya Castle, followed by hoards of admirers and supported by four lightly armored Ashigaru foot soldiers, interacting with the visitors, posing for photographs and at special times banding together to perform sword fighting feats, entertaining talks, and to thrill the Japanese girls in particular with modern music idol like dancing performances.

Once in character, the actors take on the personalities of their hero. Oda Nobunaga, for example, sports a very samurai like pony tail, and all members go to the extent of speaking in 16th Century Japanese!

Such has been their success, souvenir shops across Nagoya sell character merchandise and likenesses. The group is as popular as many of the boy bands that take the nation by storm. Naturally the band has become very popular nationwide, and spawned a series of copy cat groups of warriors across Japan.

The Omotenashi Busho Tai appear daily at Nagoya Castle and at various events across Aichi Prefecture and all over Japan. Feel free to approach them when you see them at Nagoya Castle and get an opportunity to meet a living historical figure. Surprisingly enough, Tokugawa Ieyasu in particular speaks quite good English!

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