All About Japan

Smashing Tiles Just Like a Martial Artist

Martial Arts Video Tokyo Asakusa

The Asakusa neighborhood is one of the prime sightseeing areas in Tokyo. The district is home to Sensoji, the most important temple within the capital. But if you’ve got little interest in traditional culture, Asakusa has an unforgettable experience on offer at a unique business called Kawarana, where you can literally break tradition!

Kawarana operates out of what looks like a driveway, making it a little hard to tell what sort of service it offers. There’s a pretty big hint on the large blue banner, though, which announces “KAWARA SMASH.”

Traditional roof tiles, or kawara, are made out of clay and used by martial artists to show off their physical prowess for generations. At Kawarana, customers can live their karate master fantasies by having the staff set up a number of kawara as a target, then trying to smash through them all with a single blow.

Once your target kawara are in position, the attendants will place a towel over the top, with the red circle indicating the optimum strike position. They’ll also make sure you have the proper stance and swing technique, and can provide instruction for those punching downward with their knuckles or swinging a fist down in a hammer blow.

Prices start at ¥500 (US$4.50) for a single kawara, with per-tile discounts for higher volumes. The fee also gets you use of a protective glove, and also a hanten half-coat or martial arts uniform top if you desire.

There’s a bit of tension added to the proceedings in that you only have one chance to vanquish your inanimate adversaries. Don’t think that this means that Kawarana’s staff is hoping you fail so that it can cut down on its kawara replacement costs. Those who successfully break all of their tiles receive a special sticker of recognition, and as this video of a man breaking more than a dozen kawara at once shows, the staff is definitely rooting for customers to succeed.

It’s clearly not only a lot of fun, but a great way to blow off steam. Be advised, though, that Kawarana is open only on weekends, so you’ll have to hold out until Saturday if you’re planning to work through some job-related stress by punching through some kawara.

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