I wanted to take a day trip to see outside of Tokyo. I wanted to see nature and more country and not be in the city the whole time. I had no idea how to go about doing that on my own, so I went through Viator and booked a tour. I was torn between Hakone and Nikko, but when I saw that Edo Wonderland was in Nikko, I knew I had to go there. If you have ever watched the Downtown Gaki no Tsukai Ya Arahende!! new years specials, you know what this place is. But briefly, it's basically a sort of theme park that looks like Edo period Japan. You can play games like archery, shooting, shuriken throwing, and eat food and watch ninjas run around. You can even dress up in period clothing! But first, we hopped on a tour bus (that picked us up at our hotel, conveniently) and went to Nikko. I think the bus ride was somewhere around three hours, and we made one stop to get ourselves some food. From the bus, the foliage was very pretty:
We had the funniest guide. He was a Japanese man in his 60's, maybe, and he kept saying how the people who are going to Edo Wonderland don't have much time in Nikko, and he would always punctuate what he was saying with, "Jesus Christ!" It was so. Funny.
So this tour had two different groups. One group that would spend the whole day in Nikko, and one group that would spend some time in Nikko and some time at Edo Wonderland. The tour package included the train ticket back to Tokyo.
The famous "hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil" monkeys are located at this temple in Nikko.
The monkeys kind of told a story about family in different sections. The monkey art was actually located on what used to be a horse stable.
There were elephants in the art work as well.
So after what felt like 10 minutes, the people going to Edo Wonderland were hustled quickly by the tour guide onto another bus. We spent the rest of the day there just wandering around. It was really pretty, and it really felt like I was back in the Edo period. All the people that worked there were in period clothing.
I don't know if it was because of the time of year, but there weren't many people there at all. Kevin and I played a bunch of games and took some pictures with the people. There were lots of ninja running around, and even some police who had apprehended a criminal:
Kevin and I tried out most of the games. I failed miserably at most of them, but I was pretty good at the shuriken. I think if I had realized I needed to get them into the gold circles, I would have won a great prize (the samurai sword).
Kevin and I wandered into a maze, and then into the ninja training area. It was this house that was tilted on the inside. It was really disorienting, but I think the best way to show you is with a video. This video illustrates how I could never be a ninja:
I actually really hurt myself when I fell. My arm hurt whenever I lifted it, and the pain went on for a good three months before it finally went away. lol
The main attraction was the Oiran Parade. This was a parade of the prettiest geisha. And it was the SLOWEST. PARADE. EVER. But there's a reason it was slow, and you'll understand why when you see the Oiran's shoes.
So we finished at Edo Wonderland quicker than expected. We went to the train station, and attempted to buy a ticket for an earlier time. For some reason, though, we weren't able to use the tickets we had just spent like $40.00 on. We were in a pretty country part of Japan, and nobody spoke English. Luckily, the kind lady knew what we were trying to do. So she refunded us the money we just spent, and she changed the tickets we had to a different time for a fee of about $20.00. We were very happy that we were somehow able to understand each other. We got back to Tokyo at around 7:00 pm-ish, but if we had not changed our tickets, we wouldn't have gotten back till 9:30 pm. Wayyy too late.
Overall, I would not do this tour again. The actual guide in Nikko was very informative and spoke very good English, but because we were some of the people going to Edo Wonderland, I feel like we were rushed through the tour, and I did not like that feeling. I also did not like having to go back to Tokyo at a set time. At that point, I did not care about how much extra we had to pay. I don't really have any tips to offer except maybe, if you really want to, skip the tour and go to Nikko on your own. Edo Wonderland was fun, but it was kind of empty. Maybe if you go during a more popular season, you will see more people there.