Forge Your Very Own Katana in Kyoto

Learn the techniques of an authentic swordsmith

Japanese swords are known throughout for their fine craftsmanship. If you have an interest in Japanese blades or samurai culture, you'll want to pay a visit to the castle town of Kameoka, just 25 minutes from central Kyoto. Here, you can take part in a workshop where you'll learn from a veteran swordsmith how to craft your own blade—a 15-cm miniature version of a katana known as a ‘kogatana'.

Under the watchful eye of your instructor, you'll feel the blaze of the forge as you hammer out your creation. Throughout the four-hour workshop, the swordsmith will also teach you about the history of the Japanese swords as you go through the blade-forging process together. The forging of a Japanese sword is an art that has developed over the centuries and will require patience and a careful eye, but the wealth of knowledge that you'll take back from this experience—along with the finished blade—is something you can cherish forever.

Kameoka is just 25 minutes from Kyoto Station, with the forge just another 30 minutes by taxi. The town itself is also worth exploring for its temples, hot springs, and the delightfully scenic Hozugawa-kudari river boat ride.