Alright. I admit there are some pretty kick-ass theme parks out there, but just hear me out (read me out?) for a minute.
Imagine that you are walking along a road up a hill in Japan. No, this isn't Tokyo with sprawling city-scape and bright neon signs attached to imposing, formidable buildings; not Kyoto with its many lush gardens and ahhhh-inspiring temples; not even near Matsumoto, in the heart of the "Japanese Alps" (I don't really know why I put quotes around that phrase, but everyone else does, so hey). No, you're in Hokkaido, that large island at the northern end of Japan. Even if you are not familiar with Hokkaido as a geographical entity, I suppose you have had at least a brief (or possibly extended) encounter with something of the same name as the capital - Sapporo.
Ah, I get ahead of myself (actually behind). You are not in Sapporo either (more on this, and beer later). You are in the outskirts of a small town, walking up a hill with a medium grade, surrounded by the dull greenbrown of lush foliage mixed with decomposing vegetation. Sweat does not evaporate from your skin, but instead decides to stay for a while, boiling ever so gently in the glaring sunlight. The slight embankment on either side of the road, and the sinuous curves, prevent you from seeing too far ahead. But soon you hear something and stop. Was it just the gentle rustling of the leaves, with a chorus of echoes rebounding off the hillside intermingled with the reverberations of the wind? Or was it some strange music, which causes you more than just pause: transports you to an era long past, but not forgotten. It is then that you know that you have arrived.
(Well, not after you look at the sign, because
you can't read Japanese. When you turn around though
and see the entrance...)
Yes! It is what you have been secretly and unknowingly (unless you have been truly honest with yourself) dreaming about your whole life; a way-point on your life path that must be experienced before the cosmos will allow you to proceed forward (or backward if you are lucky). Time does not stand still, does not stop, but noticeably slows. You are in slow motion now, not doing anything heroic - dodging bullets or saving a grandma from an oncoming bus - but simply staring. Hours pass (actually seconds because you really can't read Japanese and you are wondering whether this is the place, or whether you got lost - again). Then you cross the threshold. You enter Date Jidaimura, the Ninja Theme Park!
(Streets lined with ninjatude - the
attitude of a ninja. You can smell it in the air)
Enough with the rambling talk. Ninjas don't talk. They do this:
(I'll put some videos on as soon as I get them converted)
Technically, this place isn't a Ninja Theme Park, but rather a period theme park highlighting the Edo Period in Japan. But basically its a Ninja Theme Park. In addition to the outdoor and indoor Ninja Action Shows, there's a place to practice throwing stars made for throwing, an area explaining Ninja weapons and accouterments, and even a Ninja Maze!
(Check, check, AND check!)
(What's going on here?)
There is also an Outdoor Parade
Japanese Cultural Theater (with fake geisha)
(Might not have been boring if I actually understood it;
however, I have a feeling it wouldn't have mattered much)
So obviously there is actually a lot more going on here than just Ninja training, or Ninja souvenirs, or Ninja food.
There is also the House of Ghosts and Monsters
And, oddly enough, the even more scary Cat Temple.
There are even animatronic scenes of life in the Edo Period (I didn't know they had robots in feudal Japan).
(Guy getting tattoo - does that make
(Kid taking a dump - classy)
Oh, and this
Yup, Super Cool Ninja Action Edo Period Theme Park is hereby declared the BEST theme park in the world. (Agree with me - don't make the Ninjas mad.)