While visiting Nikko City, you may want to set some time aside to tour a unique theme park which reproduces the culture and lifestyle of the Edo period (1603-1868). Edo Wonderland or Nikko Edomura as it is known in Japanese is a 500,000 square meter park featuring six theaters, a traditional Edo village, a samurai residential area and a ninja village. Visitors can stroll the park in Edo period costumes available for rent at the costume store and enjoy mingling with the townspeople, including merchants, courtesans, old world policemen, etc.
You can witness an oiran parade much like the ones that were the feature of Yoshiwara, Edo era’s red light district and made familiar in such films as Memoirs of a Geisha and Sakuran. There are museums and ninja training houses and interactive amusements such as the Experience Edo: Work Experience, where children can run around acting out different roles. There are various shops that sell souvenirs such as teapots, woodblock prints and toy weapons. Other shops such as the Blacksmith and Armor Repair Shop, are replica storefronts that demonstrate how period craftsmen once worked. There are two wax museums, the Kodenmacho Jail House and the Kira-Kozukenosuke Residence where visitors can witness the grisly scenes of prison life, torture, battle and vengeance.
Edo Wonderland has five restaurants on site. If you are in the mood for chicken noodles, stop in at Tori-soba. Tenjiku to Miyako, offers a selection of Japanese sake, shochu and ume-shu (plum wine) as well as mizore-cha soba (chilled tea-flavored soba noodles topped with chicken and grated daikon radish). Yama Kujira specializes in the beef rice bowl and also serves motsu-nabe stew and Kushi-yaki skewers. Yabu’s main menu features Kaki-age soba noodles and Café Dejima serves delicious desserts with coffee or fresh-squeezed mikan citrus juice. Do not be surprised when you enter one of these establishments and encounter Edo townspeople relishing a meal!
Visit the haunted temple filled with Japanese spirits and demons, or the House of Illusion where the walls seem to bend and balls roll uphill. A favorite with most visitors seems to be the Ninja Trick Maze, a human sized labyrinth that definitely presents a challenge to escape from. You can also engage in some hands on experiences such as indigo dyeing at Konya Dyer’s Shop or learn how to throw ninja stars at Ninja Star Knives.
Finally, take advantage of the performances taking place in the various theaters around Edo Wonderland. You can chose from comic shows and traditional water magic, to live action, including the popular Grand Ninja Theater, where sword battles, magic and martial arts are part of the show. The shows are held daily, with multiple performances each day.
Admission is ¥4,500 for adults and ¥2,300 for children aged 7-12 years of age. The theme park has been the setting of several period TV shows and is definitely worth checking out.
Edo Wonderland mascot