A splendid castle stands watch over the city of Ise. Unusual in it’s design and coloring. Unlike most Japanese castles, squared and white walled with little decoration save the elegant gabled roofs, this one features splashes of red woodwork, and blue tiles under the unforgettably gorgeous golden turret on top. Spread out around a small mountain is a castle town, where sword toting samurai patrol the streets, ninja suddenly appear, and disappear, and from time to time, geisha and their entourage take to the town. This is Azuchi Castle, seat of the most powerful Lord of the Civil war period, Oda Nobunaga!
Enter through the fortress like main gates under the watch of bow carrying spearmen, and be transported back to the days of the samurai!
Azuchi Momoyama Bunka Mura, also known as Edo Wonderland, and even Ise Sengoku Jidai Mura over it’s 20 year history, is a theme park designed to represent a samurai castle town in the 15th and 16th centuries. Specially trained staff in period costume walk the streets and add to the fun and atmosphere of the theme park, more so during busy weekend and holiday periods, when larger events and even samurai processions are planned. During the slower week day and off season periods, there is more of a chance to participate in some of the live action performances, and there is no waiting in queues for attractions or food.
Wander the streets of this castle town in costume if you wish. Suits of samurai armor or kimono can be rented and fitted to enhance your enjoyment. The re-created town itself is complete with a shrine, temple, old houses and inns. The effect is quite eerie in places!
You can enjoy the live theater Edo period court case under the watchful eye of one of the many “Machi Bugyo”, or Town Magistrates of the past. Enjoy an entertaining Geisha show and learn the truth about these mysterious beauties, or find out how conditions were for the average samurai foot soldier in the experience zone. The main stage in the center of the “town” sees regular samurai and ninja action shows, sometimes on the streets themselves. The swashbuckling live action enthralls young and old alike, and adds to the entertainment value of the park.
A huge escalator takes you to the second level where other theatres and attractions await. Enjoy the action and excitement of a ninja show with spectacular live fight scenes and sword action! There’s the ninja maze for you to navigate and a ninja house of tricks. It’s not just fun and games either. An informative ninja museum will have you marveling at the ingenuity of these ancient spies and assassins and the chance to try your hand at throwing ninja stars to win prizes too! There’s even a temple with a dark secret, enter if you dare!
From a special gate, you can ride a bus shaped like a “kago”, an old style palanquin to take you to the mountain top Auzuchi Castle replica. The castle is akin a museum dedicated to Oda Nobunaga, the 16th Century warlord who fought to unify the nation. Cleverly designed displays and demonstrations enhance your understanding of the period and of Nobunaga in an informative and entertaining way. The top floor, just like the original castle, is made of pure gold, and from the balcony provides a magnificent view, not of Lake Biwa where the original castle once stood, but of the surrounding mountains and scenic coastlines of the Ise Bay.
There are no thrill rides, but old fashioned sideshow games. Food and beverages are available at a number of appropriately themed restaurants, and there are plenty of Old Japan themed souvenir shops to browse too!
The park brings to life the Sengoku Period, Japan’s civil war era with it’s reconstruction of Azuchi Castle and the town. Step back in time at Ise Azuchi Momoyama Bunka-Mura, it’s fun, it’s informative and it’s got to be on your list of MUST DO in Japan!