At Ninja Café Kunoichi in Shibuya, the café’s master, Sayaka, welcomes guests to have tea, sake, sweets or a traditional Japanese meal in a unique ninja-themed café restaurant. But that’s not all. Sayaka Oguri is a real ninja who teaches guests about authentic martial arts history and culture, learned over two decades of training in ninjutsu, the art of stealth.
The café is a 7 minute walk from the east exit of Shibuya Station. You can recognize the cafe by the shuriken mark on the flags flying at the door.
Master Sayaka has carefully selected a menu of flavored teas, regional sake, traditional sweets and substantial Japanese dishes for the café. The café space, in which she displays her collection of practice weapons and ninja memorabilia, has tables for about 10 to 12 guests. To summon the staff, guests strike the drums at the tables.
Combined with the café space is a well-appointed budojo, a training hall for martial arts, with tatami mats and a rack of swords and staves. In this space, Master Sayaka teaches the culture, tradition and techniques of the ninja. Female ninja, legendary and historical figures in Japan, were called kunoichi. Master Sayaka introduces visitors to the way of the sword, and the techniques for throwing shuriken, metal stars that are the weapon most commonly associated with ninja. Her ninja experience brings the historical kunoichi into the modern world. Guests can reserve a 120-minute training experience, and have the option to wear a training outfit adapted from kimono and traditional keiko gi uniforms.
In addition to the café and the ninja experience, guests can also learn to make onigiri rice balls. A rice ball is a nourishing and easily portable snack. Making them well takes a little knowledge of the best combination of ingredients, and a little manual dexterity to shape, and make sure they keep that shape.
Guests can also take home some sophisticated mementos, including flavored tea, small novelties and tenugui towels with the signature shuriken logo on them.
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The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program took me to Ehime Prefecture in 1999, and Japan’s culture and beautiful places kept me here. You will see many of my stories on Japan Travel are about places and events outside of big tourist draws. While I highly recommend the big name sights and experiences, I encourage visitors to see and feel the atmosphere off the beaten path, too. I've lived in cities in the Tokatsu area of Chiba Prefecture (Noda, Nagareyama, Matsudo, Kashiwa, Abiko and others) for the last 15 years and have discovered the many cultural, culinary, and historical treasures here which I share with our readers.