Take a Step Back in Time at Edo Wonderland
By John Asano
Fancy dressing up as a samurai and wandering the streets of an Edo Period castle town? Yes, then I have just the place for you. Edo Wonderland is a samurai theme park located in Ise City, Mie Prefecture. The park is also commonly known as Ise Azuchimomoyama Bunkamura and is a theme park that recreates the buildings and customs of a bygone period of Japanese history.
Edo Wonderland is built like a small castle town, and the first thing that grabs your attention as you leave the car park is the wooden fortress that surrounds the main gates. We had a samurai warrior run out and great us with a big hearty Ohayou Gozaimasu (Good Morning).
The recreated town looks like a set straight out of the movies and the look is very authentic with its shrine, temple and old houses and buildings. Highlights of the park include a spectacular ninja show with live fight scenes, a fun ninja trick maze to try and navigate, a ninja museum featuring some of the weapons and ingenuity of these secret assassins, a ninja fortress, and Japanese haunted house, as well as a full size replica of the famous Azuchi Castle.
Azuchi Castle was a famous castle founded by samurai warlord Oda Nobunaga in Azuchi, Shiga Prefecture. The castle was ground-breaking for its time and changed the face of Japanese castle design leading to the Azuchi-Momoyama Period of Japan (1573 – 1603).
The castle is unlike any other that you’ve seen before in Japan with its red woodwork, blue tiles and golden turret. The main keep is very impressive at 7 stories high and is believed to have been the largest multi-storied wooden building in the world at the time of its construction.
The castle was designed as both a defensive fortress as well as a luxurious mansion for the powerful Nobunaga. It vast size and revolutionary defences both impressed and demoralised his many enemies and political opponents and helped solidify his position as the most powerful daimyo in Japan.
You can ride a bus up to the mountain where the castle replica is located. Inside the castle is a museum dedicated to Oda Nobunaga as well as displays that inform you about the history of the period.
Visiting here is like taking a step back in time with all the staff dressed in cool 16th century costumes. You can also join in on the fun and rent a period costume for the day. Take your pick from a range of costumes including samurai, ninja and princess. Feel like trying your hand at some old school weaponry? You can also try archery, shooting and the always popular ninja throwing stars (shuriken).
Dressed in my samurai costume and throwing some ninja stars, I felt like Shintaro out of “The Samurai”. You guys remember Shintaro, right? He was the star of a popular black & white Japanese TV series made in the early 1960s featuring samurai and ninja. It was actually the first Japanese TV program ever screened in Australia, and became a massive cult hit. It was my first experience of Japanese culture and left a lasting impression on me.
Edo Wonderland brings Japan’s past to life and is a fun and informative experience of Japanese history and culture. I recommend spending at least 3-4 hours at Edo Wonderland if not more to fully explore and experience all that the park has to offer.
Address: 1201-1, Mitsu, Futamicho, Ise City Mie Prefecture 519-0603
Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (March 17 – Nov 15), 9:30 am to 4:30 pm (Nov 16 – March 16)
Admission: General ¥2,500 Plus Yuryo-kan (full access) ¥3,900