5 Sightseeing Places That Will Make You Feel Like You Traveled Through Time in Japan
These places will make you feel like you've returned to the Edo Period (1603 - 1868) and allow you to enjoy the history and the culture of Japan. These places are perfect for both Japanese people and foreigners alike!
1. Toei Kyoto Studio Park (Kyoto)
Toei Kyoto Studio Park is a theme park used as an open set for period dramas (especially those taking place in the Edo Period) that also holds events and attractions. There are impressive ninja shows made using 3D mapping, classes in the uses of shuriken and sword battles for theatrical purposes (especially in action scenes), a ninja dojo set in a karakuri-yashiki (a trick house where you can learn the secrets of ninjas), and more, all created so that you can enjoy the world of period dramas. You can become your own personal movie star by dressing up in either their quick 15 minute outfit change or full makeup and costume helped by their staff that worked on period films and TV - either way, getting dressed up and walking around the set will make you feel great. If you're lucky, you might actually be able to see a real filming!
2. Kawagoe (Saitama)
Kawagoe, a town just 45 minutes from Shinjuku Station by limited express train, is a warehouse town popular for sightseeing. Since it has kept the atmosphere of a castle town from the Edo Period, it's called "Koedo" ("Little Edo"), and was listed in the 100 Beautiful Japanese Historical Scenic Sights ranking. Also, in their Kashiya Yokocho, an area that has been in existence for more than 100 years, there are about 20 stores selling dagashi for a few hundred yen or less. Dagashi are cheap candies made so that children can buy it with their pocket money. You can enjoy some casual shopping there. Take a day trip away from the capital city to enjoy a stroll around "Little Edo" and maybe find some stores that strike your fancy.
3. Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura (Tochigi)
This park is split up into five areas such as a ninja village and a samurai estate, and each area is full of the genuine building styles traditionally used for those purposes so each area is distinct from each other. However, the main characteristic that sets this park apart from other historical areas is the existence of people wearing chonmage, the topknot hairstyle used by men in the Edo Period that is seen now mostly on sumo wrestlers. There are more than 10 costumes available, so you can enjoy becoming a complete person from the Edo Period as you enjoy the park. You can experience ninja skills like wall-walking and throwing shuriken, learn how to create Edo crafts, or watch a historical play. There are many attractions that people of all ages can enjoy. The park mascot is named Nyanmage, and he's a cat wearing chonmage - he's very popular, especially with children. He appears in unexpected places and at unexpected moments, so if you run into him you should definitely get a photo.
4. The streets of Sawara (Chiba)
Sawara is an area of Katori in Chiba that has kept the streets as they were in the Edo Period. There are many shops that have continued their business since then, including liquor stores, soba restaurants, and sundries stores, and walking around will make you feel like you jumped through time to the Edo Period. You can ride a boat called the Sawara-fune and enjoy the sight of the streets from the river on a slow sightseeing course. Since you can enjoy the scenery from an angle that's totally different than just walking around, you should definitely consider it. Also, the home of Ino Tadataka, the man who created the first accurate map of Japan more than 200 years ago, remains here as a museum where the tools he used are on display. He spent 17 years after the age of 56 walking around the country (it's said that the amount he walked was the same as circling the earth once) to create his map; why not go look at it in person and compare it to a modern map?
5. Tochigi City (Tochigi)
During the Edo Period, the city of Tochigi was an inn town (a town where lodging and shipping services were available for the comfort of travelers) with good water transportation on the road to Nikko Toshogu Shrine, a major shrine in Nikko. Those waterways, white-walled warehouses, and storefronts that were used then still remain, making it a city where you can enjoy the feeling of the Edo period. You can enjoy the sight of the streets not just from the road but you can also take the sightseeing boat (700 JPY (tax incl.) for adults) for a view from the water. The twenty-minute ride is spent listening to the boatman explaining the city and hearing him sing the Tochigi Gashisendou Uta ("song of the Tochigi riverside boatmen"). It will definitely become a great memory of your trip. Some of the buildings have become reference libraries and museums, so you can enter and see how the building interior were set up at the time as well.
In these areas you can enjoy the feeling of the halcyon days of the Edo Period. You can enjoy not just the view of the streets but also experience the culture in various ways, so you're sure to be able to have a lot of fun. Please take the time out to see some of these places.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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