Being… tied up in Edo Wonderland
Located in Nikko city of Tochigi prefecture where is about 120 km to the north of Tokyo, Edo Wonderland used to be a place inhabited by Samurai. Afterwards, it was reconstructed as an area that resurrects Edo period life and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Being… tied up right before entering
After we bought the tickets, we were completely taken aback by a chaotic crowd which was led by a guy whose face looked quite like…a robber came out in old Japanese costumes. That robber ran to the middle of the road, then threw all the money to the poor.
Turned out, he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.
When the robber ran away, suddenly, we were tied up by an evil mandarin; and in our panic, we were "escorted" to the front gate of the park to...take some photos. What a dramatic, yet thrilling experience!
In Edo Wonderland, the staff here all dress up as people living during the Edo period.
They are used to the costumes, demeanour and way of life so much that we think they just "act without acting". Each traditional wooden house, theater, inn, museum, as well as the costumes and the way of life here, gives visitors the feeling that they are actually living in the Edo period.
Surprisingly, many people/actors/actresses in Edo Wonderland are extremely "versatile". For instance, the actress playing the beautiful Oiran in the parade can also act as...an extremely agile Ninja in the Ninja play.
The beautiful Oiran
In Edo Wonderland, I had the chance to witness the Oiran procession. I saw the way the beautiful Oiran parading on her high heels, walking in figure eight on ancient music, and being surrounded by servants and guides.
Many people are often confused between Oiran and Geisha since they both have white face makeup and red lips.
However, after some careful research, I found out that Oiran is far different from Geisha.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), the Japanese government allowed the openings of brothels in quarters far from the city center. Oiran is the highest rank that one courtesan can achieve. Also, the costumes and hairstyles of Oiran are often more colorful and elaborate than those of Geisha.
To become Oiran, courtesans have to not only take care of their appearance but also possess profound knowledge of poetry, tea ceremony, flower arranging, and other aspects of life to be able to converse with people who held power and high social class such as feudal lords.
These days, Oiran only entertain in the form of performing and conversing but no longer sell sexual services. Also, there are only a few Oiran left until this day. Actresses playing Oiran in Edo Wonderland have to study every gesture, posture, gait and gaze very carefully over a year before being allowed to play this role.
While waiting for martial art performances that will take place on the stage, visitors can wander around and experience exciting activities such as learning to play Japanese traditional ancient instruments, taking photos in Edo style, wearing Geisha makeup, having tea in small adorable tea shops or enjoying delicious dishes with traditional Japanese flavors.
Surprisingly, there is a Vietnamese "resident" in Edo Wonderland named Ha. She graduated from The University of Danang and her major was foreign language. Also, Vietnam is in the top 3 countries whose people travel to Japan the most. Apart from Ha, there are foreign tour guides from other countries that make sure visitors have a full experience of interesting activities in the park.
Information about Edo Wonderland
- Before 14:00: 4.70¥ for adult/ 2.400¥ for children
- After 14:00: 4.100¥ for adult/ 2.100¥ for children
- Taking a bus from Kinugawa Onsen station: 15 minutes
- Grabbing a taxi: 10 minutes
- The route from Nikko Toshogu Shrine - JR Nikko Station - Edo Wonderland: free shuttle bus available.
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