Japan has a long and rich history of colorful characters like samurai, ninja and powerful warlords. Fans of the past can find plenty to love in Japan, from manga and anime to well-stocked museums. To really get a feel for the country’s historical diversity, though, what better way than to experience it yourself at a historical park?
Scattered around the country are several must-visit parks that transport you directly into Japan’s distant past. Some are like open-air museums, buildings you can wander through, while others combine the excitement of an amusement park with historical accuracy. No matter your choice, you’ll have fun and learn something too.
Here are our picks for the five best historical parks in Japan.
1. Ise Azuchi-Momoyama Bunkamura (Mie)
The Azuchi-Momoyama period lasted from 1568 to 1600 and encompassed the final years of the Sengoku period, the time of the Warring States. Relive this tumultuous era of warlords, samurai and ninja at Ise Azuchi-Momoyama Bunkamura, a theme park in Ise in Mie Prefecture.
Designed like a period town, the park features staff in era-appropriate costumes and ninja and oiran (courtesan) performances. There are also activities (with separate entrance fees), such as the Ninja Maze and Nyamage Theater. The one you’re really going to want to see is the reconstruction of Oda Nobunaga’s Azuchi Castle.
The Azuchi-Momoyama period is a particularly exciting time in Japanese history, so it’s well worth visiting the park. Kids will love it too.
Futamicho Mitsu 1201-1, Ise, Mie - Map
Admission: ¥3,600 general, ¥4,900 all-inclusive
2. Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura (Tochigi)
The Edo era began when Tokugawa Ieyasu united all of Japan, ending the long civil war. The resulting 268 years of peace were known as the Edo period, named after the city where Tokugawa set up his military government (now called Tokyo). That era is recreated at Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura at Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture.
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