JAPAN: Kyoto (Toei Uzumasa Eigamura/ 東映太秦映画村 / Kyoto Studio Park)

For movie buffs, the Toei Uzumasa Eigamura also known as the Kyoto Studio Park is a must see on your next visit to Japan! Of course there is the Universal Studios Theme Park in Osaka but the attraction located in Kyoto is set in the Edo and Meiji periods and features various traditional buildings that are occasionally used as backdrops for filming historical movies and TV dramas.  As a matter of fact, the Kyoto Studio Park is the only theme park in Japan where visitors can actually observe the filming of a movie or TV drama.

The Uzumasa area of Kyoto was once home to several movie studios, which earned it the nickname, Hollywood of Japan. However, the film industry soon fell into decline with the advancement of television and the theme park was constructed as a way to preserve the traditions of the Japanese movie industry.

The park consists of streets depicting various town settings and includes a replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge and part of the Yoshiwara Red Light District.  Visitors can enter a Samurai-style residence and visit the Edo period law courts.  You can even go inside of a period jail cell and see what it was like to be a criminal in Japan at the time.

The attendants are all clothed in period costumes, which adds to the atmosphere. The park is also home to a ninja maze, a 3D Theater, a haunted house, video arcades, restaurants and souvenir shops, all designed to make your visit truly enjoyable. For \8,500 – \16,000, guests can don historic costumes and have their photos taken.  Costumes are also available for rental while strolling the park.  Sometimes it is difficult to discern the actors and staff members from the guests!

The center of Main Street is the setting for the acrobatic Samurai Show and the Chambara Show, which demonstrates traditional Japanese sword fighting. Location Studio is set up as a movie school, where a director, a samurai and a villain explain to the audience how a scene is developed.  It is both humorous and informative so do make a point of checking it out. Understand that some of the shows require an additional fee so be certain to check the schedule when you arrive.

The Movie Cultural Hall is set inside of a European style building from the Meiji era and recalls the history of the Japanese movie business. It is an informative and fun place to visit.  The SFX Pool is a special effects pools complete with its own dinosaur-like beast.  Here, technicians have the ability to produce artificial rain and waves with the push of a button, creating either a raging sea or a tranquil flowing river instantly.

The park is a five minute walk from the Uzumasa Station of the Keifukyu Arashiyama Line or a 15 minute walk from the JR Hanazono Station. Hours are from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  During the weekdays the park is usually crowded with students on school excursions therefore, plan your visit accordingly.

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