Feb 19, 2018
Japan's long and rich history can be felt at castles and various historical sites, but today you can also experience the feel of old Japan in new settings, such as the history-themed amusement park. Here are three of my favorites.
1 Edo Wonderland in Tochigi
4700 yen for adults, 2400 yen for children ages 6-12
This terribly interesting place has been covered in a previous review on this site, but after my family's visit last Christmas, I had to add in some enthusiastic applause.
Inside the park is the costume rental station, where paying customers can choose from a number of costumes, including female samurai which I was especially thrilled about. Though scarce historically, the kimono-clad woman with a sword is a much more fun cosplay option for a chubby but adventurous lady like me especially when compared to many other, more traditionally feminine options. This was easily the most fun I have ever had and the most comfortable I have been in a kimono, though I will admit that the women in charge of dressing the tourists were somewhat less helpful than I would have preferred.
Two samurai and a tiny ninja at Edo Wonderland.
The atmosphere was lovely, and nothing can beat watching my little one run around in ninja garb all day long.
The old-style buildings are mostly used as souvenir shops or theaters for shows varying from Edo-era magic tricks to a short but exciting ninja play. There is also a ramen shop for those looking for a little lunch break, but seating is very limited so plan accordingly. Overall, I found the displays captivating and it was an enormous amount of fun for the whole family. We arrived shortly after the park opened for the day and turned in our costumes just fifteen minutes shy of the deadline before park closing.
2 Sedic Movie Village in Yamagata
1300 yen for adults, 900 for Junior high school students, Free for ages 0-12
This former (and sometimes current) film set is made up to resemble an old samurai-era town. As such, the small paths and buildings lend themselves well to photography, so if you wanted to get a picture that make it look like you were in old-timey Japan, this wouldn't be a bad option. The tours are largely self-guided and involve wandering through uninhabited home-replicas. Moving from house to house, you will find a number of interactive displays, including toys from the era and a self-guided katana experience (likely the most fun you'll have slicing newspaper), but there appear to be no entertainers outside of the main entrance area save for the bus driver. There is a place where customers can try on kimono and sit for a photo op in a grand room, but there is no assistance in these activities and you are really on your own to get things adjusted properly.
Still fun, especially for a rambunctious kid, but can be handled easily in a few hours one morning or afternoon. For my full account with pictures, see the blog post.
3 Eigamura in Kyoto
2,200 yen for adults, 1300 yen for Junior high school students, 1100 yen for ages 3-12, Free for ages 0-2
My trip to Eigamura was enjoyed with a couple of adult students back in 2009. While I was rushed through trying to read the blurbs from different Kurosawa films on display, my companions focused on getting to what resembled a little old Japanese town and borrowing the happi and yukata bits available. It was amusing and fun, but I don't feel I got to fully appreciate the surroundings.
There was a ninja show that I remember enjoying and the experience was a fun one, but it is probably more fun if you get to go at your own pace.
A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.