Before you say it's tacky or touristy, hear me out, I loved my Toei Kyoto Studio Park experience, and you are hearing this from someone who actively seeks offbeat destinations! It was like letting the child within me run wild for the afternoon, with a sword. This is the only theme park in Japan where you can observe the filming of Jidaigeki Films (Period Drama), which I did manage to catch on the day I was there! I had a blast enjoying the atmosphere of ancient Japan by taking in a ninja show, walk freely along streets from the Edo period, braving through a haunted house, climbing roofs and even dressing up as a samurai. Honestly, you will find all kinds of entertainment, food and a great time!
Did you know that Kyoto was called the "Hollywood of Japan" between the 1920s and 1960s, up until its film industry went into decline? Toei Studios Kyoto opened up parts of its sets to the public in 1975, further development followed and there you have it, the theme park grew in popularity among tourists. Like I've mentioned before, many of Japan's jidaigeki period dramas are still filmed on these sets!
I am obsessed with dressing up when and wherever I have the chance to - Funso no Yakata was the icing on my cake. Not only does the theme park offer an incredible backdrop but there are a variety of characters you can transform into: a samurai, ninja, towns girl or even maiko. Better yet, you can choose out of more than 30 kinds of costumes! PLUS, professional make-up artists and hair stylists are ready with hands on deck for your makeover (I did not opt for this option, I mean, I was so keen to be in costume, and besides, a samurai doesn't need makeup!). With that said, there is a wide variety of plans to chose from ! You can take up to an hour-long stroll around the theme park! Of course, if you're short on time, there is also the Costume Photo Shop where you can choose a background and dress up as a Meiji Period school girl, a feudal lord or a ninja at Funso Shashinkan.
If you're looking to travel from Kyoto Station, Toei Eigamura is just a 15-minute walk from JR Hanzono Station and costs around 200 yen for a 10-minute train ride! The amusement park can also be accessed from Shijo-Omiya or Arashiyama to Uzumasa-Koryuji also a 10-minute walk from the station.
hours & Fee
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00; slightly longer and shorter hours depending on the season and weekday; admission ends one hour before closing time.
Admission fee: Age18 and above 2,200 yen, age 17 and under 1,300 yen, age 12 and under 1,100 yen, under age 3 free.
Costume dressing fee: From 1,900 yen
OTHER ATTRACTIONS + My take on the haunted house
After your stroll in the park as a samurai, there are also several other attractions and amusements you can explore! Here's to list a few: Ninja performances, Mirror Maze, Trick Art Museum, Mystery House and a Haunted House that is claimed to be one of the scariest in Japan (which I can totally vouch for, I tried exiting from the entrance two seconds into the attraction, of course, I was not allowed out and had to finish the whole tour!! YIKES). I've repeated several times that I love this feeling of time travel... but this was on a whole other level, it was like I had suddenly time travelled to the dark and bloody side of the Samurai period and became the main character of a horror film. If you are visiting Kyoto and want to experience a very Japanese style haunted house, then try this one first for sure! Keep in mind that this park is owned and run by the film company Toei - so the settings, the story, and even the makeup of the actors are incredibly well made (in other words, TRAUMATISING!)
Also, note that some of these attractions require additional entrance fees. There are also video arcades, restaurants and souvenir shops.
I hope you enjoyed this post on Toei Eigamura, let me know what you think or if you're like me and is completely obsessed with the feeling of time travel!