The Edo (江戸) period was one of the most definitive periods of Japanese history in terms of art, culture and society. This was also the era in which Japan earned its name as the Samurai Country. Edo Mura (江戸村; Edo Village), also known as Edo Wonderland (日光江戸村), in Nikko (日光) gives visitors a chance to relive the Edo period. Educational, active and fun, these four activities at Edo Wonderland make it a trip worth making!
Situated in Nikko, home to many World Heritage Sites, Edo Wonderland is a theme park which recreates the magic of the Edo Period. Edo Wonderland consists of different zones including the Market District, Inn Town, Samurai Residence and Ninja Village where the buildings and landscape have been recreated to match the Edo period. A fire station, a Ninja house, a temple from hell and a prison are just a sample of the buildings visitors can explore and enjoy.
One activity for visitors of Edo Wonderland is to dress up in Edo-style clothing while roaming around the village. Outfits include Edo era policemen, samurai and princesses. A favorite for the kids is, of course, the Ninja outfits. You will be dressed up in your costume and accessories by one of theme park’s professionals.
On my trip, I dressed up as a Samurai and got a giant Samurai sword (a bit blunted to avoid injuries) and a nice money purse which could accommodate my wallet and mobile. My child dressed up as a Ninja and got a nice nun-chaku and other mini-weapons Ninja wield. You will find that some people really get into character, so much so that you can find other Ninjas and Samurai performing in mock battles. Would not it be nice to dress up as a Samurai or a Ronin and challenge another to a battle?
One word of caution: this is a popular activity and queue times can be long, so if you plan to dress up, you better hurry to the dressing up site first!
Edo Wonderland also has a lot of live performances depicting the era. These include Ninja shows, tea ceremonies and plays going on throughout the day. One flip side is that most of the shows are completely in Japanese which can make them difficult to follow for visitors who do not speak Japanese. However, the Ninja show is highly recommended for everyone as it is full of action and live stunts. The traditional tea ceremony is another interesting show I would recommend.
For visitors who prefer to enjoy the culinary tastes of a destination, Edo Wonderland provides delicious cuisine which was popular during the Edo period. Surrounded by people enjoying these dishes dressed in traditional Edo costumes, you really will feel that you have gone back in time.
Unfortunately, the options are somewhat limited for those on a vegetarian diet, so I would recommend bringing a packed lunch.
Finally, there is a small section that is like a countryside fair. This section houses some of the arcade games that were popular during this era. Kids can play games with Ninja weapons and adults can try out their archery skills. It might be a good idea to hone in some of the fighting skills of these games before you venture out to find foes. There is also a small canal where the visitors can take a boat cruise.
Tickets are priced at around 5000 yen for adults and around 2500 yen for children. Edo Wonderland is open from 9:00 to 17:00, but the park is compact so it should only take around three to four hours to cover the grounds. Be sure to add on an extra hour to this for watching shows and dressing up.
Two to three-day tour packages to Nikko will give you the option to include Edo Wonderland as a good means of saving money while seeing other parts of Nikko while you are there. With Tobu World Square (東武ワールドスクエア), another popular tourist destination, a short distance away Edo Wonderland and Tobu World Square could be covered in a single day.
All in all, Edo Wonderland gives visitors a wonderful opportunity for family fun while taking you back to one of the most iconic era of Japanese history. This experience would enrich the Japanese experience and, hence, this village is one of the must-see destinations during a visit to Japan.