Spent last weekend in a town called Noboribetsu in Hokkaido - home to hot springs and Edo Wonderland - an authentic reproduction of an Edo period village based on historical research.
The sunny blue skies was a welcome relief after two days of rain in Hokkaido.
Arrival at Noboribetsu station which has a traditional station sign.
Then catching a bus to the Edo Wonderland which is also known as Jidai Mura.
Some buses have you pay when you get on - some when you get off. For the ones where you pay when you get off, you need to take a ticket first and when you get off, you put the ticket and fare into the little box by the driver.
Arrival at Jidai Mura 10 mins later. Entrance fee was about 2500 yen-ish.
Entrance to Jidai Mura.
Shops over to the right.
Some Ninja swords for the kids.
Many games to be played where you can win coins that can be spent at the village.
You can win some shuriken Ninja stars to throw at your neighbors. Or if you don't win any then you can buy them - failing that, you can go home and make some from paper. If you hate your neighbors then you can make some from used toilet paper but make sure to clean the poo from underneath your fingers when you are done.
They also have some blow pipe darts for you to try out.
Dont inhale too deeply or it will probably be your last breath ^^;
And here I demonstrate how not to pose while using the blow pipe as your enemies will die from laughter but ideally you want them to die from a dart between the eyes...
A Samurai shows us how to pose.
Get as many of the light plastic balls to rest in the grooved circles and win some moolah.
You can buy some Ninja and Samurai swords.
So whats the difference between a Samurai and a Ninja?
A Samurai was one of noble military rank whereas a Ninja was usually a covert warrior who trained in espionage, sabotage, infiltration and assassination.
We arrived at about 10:00 and stayed until about 14:30. Its really nice just walking around looking at the scenery.
The historical and traditional element of Jidai Mura made the visit much more interesting than any previous trips to Disney land.
Looking for some grub.
More food stuff to pick up on the way out.
Was the first time in ages to get some relaxing time off.
For those who read Japanese - description of a Ninja.
In the Ninja house now which displayed the tools, methods and activities of a Ninja. Wikipedia has more nitty gritty about what they got up to.
What I loved about the Ninja house is that they played Ninja Gaiden type music and realized that there must be a whole genre of Ninja music out n about there somewhere. If you have any recommendations then let us know!
Some Ninja hand signs which you may have seen in a few games. Speaking of games, very much looking forward to Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 out next month.
And this time we get to choose the girls ^o^
Tools and weapons of a Ninja. They dont show the roller skates here for some reason.
Some Chimaki with Rin. Rice cooked with meats in some sort of leaf.
Filling up with some Oden.
Dango and tea.
And then topping off with some Katsu.
This happens to me a lot!
Time to explore the rest of the villiage.
During the Edo period, fires frequently sprung up so they decided to built these towers to spot them before the fire became wild spread.
The village also has a reproduction of dwellings lived in at the time.
The Edo period runs from 1603 to 1868 but not sure which years these dwellings are from.
The dwellings showed that Japanese dwellings had a step up to the inside of the house. Modern houses also have this small step - this is the reason why when entering a Japanese house, the owner will say "Agatte kudasai" or "please come up."
This would be your doctor if you lived in the Edo period.
A Geisha and some bloke.
Cant quite remember from my Japanese studies at university but I beleive there was a period where the Samurai were not as noble as they should have been and ended up being like average salary men. Saigo Takamori wanted to invade Korea to raise the spirits of the Samurai and restore their noble image - or something like that.
Here we see a Samurai making umbrellas.
Some bloke getting himself tatooed.
The person concerned as well as keep off
Th Edo period was perfect for balding folks like me where being bald was the in thing.
Then its time to shoot some arrows - missed everything!
The entrance to the Ninja Maze - like a house of horrors but Ninja style and the most interesting experience I've had in one of these!
There is one particular room where the floor is slanted but the walls upright with mirrors. This Ninja is actually standing upright. Once inside the room, you start to feel incredibly dizzy and fall back to the bottom of the slope as if somebody is pushing you. There are no mechanics under the floor either and the illusion was created by just the slanting floor and mirrors - do give it a whirl if you go!
The Ninja show starts at 13:30. Going to explore more and come back.
The village is just gorgeous and on a sunny day even more so.
There are Samurai, Ninja's and Geisha walking around the village and some of them are visitors to the park who can get changed into traditional gear for the day.
All of these photos taken on the Lumix LX3. Speaking of which - new Lumix LX3 looks set to be announced on the 9th of September?
At a shrine full of cats.
Not a lot of people about at all.
A building at the top of the stairs beckons us.
A view from the stairs of the village.
The building is full of documentation about making swords.
Spirit of Samurai.
I really need to travel more of Japan.
Cute Kunoichi spotted.
Ninja Show time. Pretty interesting. Folks who dont understand Japanese can just enjoy the fighting and rope action.
A snap with the cats after the show.
Unfortunately they didnt sell decent Ninja outfits - only for kids. Have always wanted to be a Ninja since I was a kid. Time to make an original character costume? Tokyo Dance Ninja?
Some kids trying to Ninja stab each other.
Forgot what this is called - a rope is coiled around a wooden spinning top and spun from the rope onto the square thing on the floor.
Some Samurai at the gates to welcome and send off visitors.
The kids enjoyed themselves much. I love how the Japanese have managed to keep their culture rich with tradition.
And at the bus stop waiting to head off to the hot springs.
Leaving you with some more photos of the village and a video. Thanks to JR Hokkaido for looking after us.