Edo Wonderland is a theme park located in Nikko. It’s a perfect day out for families and couples alike. The theme is old Tokyo, or Edo, featuring ninja shows, mini games such as archery and darts, and a haunted house.
Although Edo Wonderland doesn’t feature rollercoasters or other usual attractions of a theme park, it is unique in that it offers an experience of old Japan, making it fascinating for those interested in Japanese traditions and culture. Walking along in the park feels like exploring old Edo – with old wooden houses, actors in traditional wear such as kimonos, and many activities and show centred around the theme, it’s an experience very different from the usual theme park.
Upon arrival, you are given a schedule detailing the different shows on offer. Firstly, we went to a ninja show. We sat at the front, holding a small slip of paper they give to you so that you can throw money onto the stage if you enjoyed it. Filming and photography were restricted, but overall that made the show better – the audience didn’t have to listen to cameras clicking and flashes.
The show was incredible. The actors displayed impressive gymnastics, sword fighting techniques and acting. Dry ice and detailed artwork displayed a night time scene, where a ninja disguised as a traveller protected an important scroll from his enemies. It was an exciting, action-filled show, and I gladly threw a one hundred yen coin onto the stage afterwards.
There were many mini-games on offer, such as darts, archery and shooting. I tried my hand at archery (which is more difficult than it looks!) and managed to win a calendar after striking the target once. Masaru, my homestay dad, managed to strike three arrows onto the target, winning a pretty fan. The shooting game was apparently difficult, too. The prizes on offer included notebooks, cups and cuddly toys. All the games were around 500-600JPY a go.
As well as the exciting ninja show, there were other performances, such as a water show and a show where they got a volunteer from the audience. The volunteer happened to be my friend, who was then addressed as ‘Odaiji-sama’ for the entire show, and given a free bowl of sake to drink. Admittedly, it made the day even better to see my friend from the States dressed like this.
Because it was a midday rush, we had to wait around twenty minutes before we could enter the restaurant at lunchtime. It was worth the wait, however; I ordered the tempura seibo, a dish of cold soba with shoyuu sauce (soy sauce) and vegetable and shrimp tempura. The beer was expensive – 800JPY for half a pint – but since we were having a nice day out, we treated ourselves.
Aside from the restaurant, there were several food stalls, so the delicious smell of cooking wafted through the old Edo streets. There was fresh yakitori (various kinds of meat on sticks) and mochi (sweet rice cakes). After lunch, we visited the ‘sideways house’ – a building that is built at a slanted angle, making it very strange to walk through, featuring challenges which would be simple in a normal house, such as ‘sit here with your arms folded’ or ‘stand up from this bench without using your hands’.
Towards the end of the day, the actors, including a beautifully dressed lady in a kimono, performed a parade through the Edo streets. Before leaving, we visited the gift shop, and I got a shiruken key ring with my name inscribed, both in Roman letters and in Katakana. It was only 550JPY, which I thought was a pretty good deal.
There were many things we didn’t get to see, such as dressing up as a samurai, the Yakata boat cruise and meeting Nyan-mage, the cute mascot. Edo Wonderland is a great trip for families, groups of friends and couples. Adult access is 4,700JPY, or 4,100JPY if you get an afternoon pass. Children are 2400 or 2100JPY, respectively. Discounts for those with disabilities and for seniors are also available. It’s a recommended day out if you’re interested in Japanese culture, and would like to experience exciting shows, cool mini-games and Japanese dining. It’s a little on the expensive side, but it’s a great day out you won’t quickly forget.