If you’re interested in Japanese castles or if you want to spend some fun time in an ancient samurai town with your whole family, fighting against ninja and enjoying geisha performances, then the Azuchi Momoyama Bunkamura is the right place for you.
Welcome to Azuchi Momoyama Bunkamura
Azuchi Momoyama Bunkamura (伊勢安土桃山文化村) is located in Ise City, Mie Prefecture (map).
It’s also commonly known as “Edo Wonderland” or “Sengoku Jidai Mura”.
It’s a theme park displaying the culture and history of the Azuchi Momoyama Period (1568-1600).
While there are no rides in this theme park, you can still have a lot of fun.
You can experience the atmosphere of a castle town during a time when samurai were ruling.
One of the many attractions is the “Iga Ninja Illusion room” which might drive you insane. Can you figure out all the ninja tricks and find your way out of the ninja maze?
I remember failing badly in the ninja maze.
I hope you’ll have better luck!
In the ninja training fortress you can try out various weapons (e.g. shuriken, bow and arrow or guns).
There’s also a small, informative ninja museum, although it doesn’t compare to the real thing (e.g. the one in Iga Ueno).
You can even find a haunted mansion.
To add more value to your visit, you can wear a costume (ninja, samurai armor, kimono etc.).
You can either just take a photo (~ 1000-3000 yen) at the “Disguise Photo Studio” or walk around the whole day in that costume which can cost up to 10.000 yen.
You’ll be able to experience different performances.
There’s also a live theater (Edo period) as well as geisha, samurai and ninja performances.
The samurai and ninja action sometimes even takes place directly on the street which makes it seem more real.
Needless to say that the staff is also wearing costumes.
I went there in August on a weekday and there weren’t many people which was nice, but it also meant that there were less performances.
The prices are not in Japanese yen, but in an ancient currency of that time called “ryo“.
The Impressive Replica of Azuchi Castle
The most popular attraction of the theme park – and the ONLY reason why I went there – is the 1:1 replica of Azuchi Castle. This replica cost about 7 billion yen!
The original castle is not in Mie, but in Shiga Prefecture. The castle keep is gone, but you can find really impressive ruins there.
It used to be the largest multi-stored (7!) wooden building at that time (1579).
Oda Nobunaga didn’t just want a military structure, but a mansion that would impress his rivals.
The style is quite different from other Japanese castles. The red woodwork and the blue tiles along with the golden turret make it look very extravagant.
It was not only the first castle with a tower keep (tenshu), but also the highest story was octagonal.
With its size and the irregular inner fortification it was so impressive that it changed the basics of Japanese castle design leading to the Azuchi Momoyama period.
That’s why it’s not a surprise this period got its name from Azuchi Castle (Oda Nobunaga) in Shiga and Momoyama Castle (Toyotomi Hideyoshi) in Kyoto.
It represents a time when Nobunaga and his successor Hideyoshi tried to create a unified Japan, eventually leading to the infamous Battle of Sekigahara.
Inside of the castle you’ll find a museum providing information about the Azuchi Momoyama Period and mainly about the life of Oda Nobunaga.
The top floor is painted in gold leaf.
From the highest floor you have a great view over Ise City.
Is Azuchi Momoyama Bunkamura worth visiting?
If you’re visiting Ise Grand Shrine and Meoto Iwa and have some time left, then why not give Edo Wonderland a try?
If you’re travelling with kids, they’ll love it! And if you love Japanese castles, it’s a must!