Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura is a history-themed park recreating the Japanese town and bringing visitors the culture and atmosphere of the Edo period(1603-1868). It is located in Nikko, only 2 hours away by train from Tokyo. The vast village consists of rows of merchant houses, samurai mansions, teahouses, restaurants, and an exciting Ninja village. The staff and many visitors are wearing period costumes, blending perfectly into the scenery. The park looks so authentic that its grounds have been used as a setting for period TV dramas.
Out of all things we did in Japan, it was one of the best experiences we had! We had a whole day of fun where I have dressed up as Shinsengumi (special police force) and my boyfriend as samurai. Just watching him trying to walk up the stairs in “a skirt” and Japanese shoes was a sight to behold 😛
During the day, there were a lot of live shows, theatre plays, and parades, which were fun to take part in. Even though they were all in Japanese, it was easy to follow through and enjoy them. We got a timetable at the entrance, and we just planned around it.
One show not to miss is the parade called The Oiran Courtesan Procession. The Oiran Courtesans were high-class courtesans who enjoyed the status of celebrities during the Edo Period. Once a day, they stroll down the main road followed their entire entourage, wearing elaborate kimonos, very tall geta sandals, and showing some fantastic, complicated footwork.
Some activities like playing the instrument, horseback shooting, samurai speech required an extra fee and reservation of a spot. Also, because we were wearing rented costumes, we weren’t allowed to participate in activities like cloth dyeing, as it could damage the outfits. But we were so busy with other things happening that we didn’t manage to try any of the additional activities.
One thing you should try is making senbei (grilled rice crackers), a popular snack in the Edo era. The staff guided us in making them and then took pictures of us, where we looked like professional rice crackers bakers. Check out the riverbank, there is a lot of fish swimming around and they are the most gluttonous fish I have ever seen. The moment I dropped a special treat for them, it was battle for life o.O
It is not common to tip for the performance in Japan, but we were allowed to do it in Edo style! At the entrance to the shows, we were given a piece of paper. We could put a couple of coins in it, twist to make a kind of a package, and then throw it on the scene at the end of the act. It took us a while to realize what was actually happening, but we peeked around to figure it out.
You can rent a fantastic costume for a whole day. The prices range from 3000 to 10000 yen for different outfits. The selection is quite broad, allowing you to transform into Edo period characters such as policemen, samurai, princesses, or even a lord, to mention a few. Only Orian costume has to be reserved one week in advance, as only one person a day can wear it. Other outfits you can just pick when you arrive at the entrance.
The staff interacts with you based on what costume you are wearing to allow you to immerse into the role fully. Every costume gets a tiny purse to put all the valuables you might need throughout the day.
Renting a costume made our day an amazing experience! We had so much time that we would rent the costumes again if we were to revisit. What is a better way to immerse in the experience than becoming part of it? 🙂
How to get there
We used Hyperdia to plan the route from Tokyo to Nikko JR station using our JR passes. There was a free shuttle bus from Nikko station that took us directly to the park in half an hour. One note, though: we were required to show our park tickets on the way back, and it was a good thing we did not throw them out yet!
You can also take the Tobu Kinugawa line from Asakusa to Kinugawa Onsen, or JR line from Shinjuku or Omiya to Kinugawa Onsen. From there, take a bus bound for Edomura and get off the last stop. It takes around 15-20 minutes to get there, and there are more busses than to Nikko.