On a nice September Sunday, I went out to visit “Warp Station Edo” in Tsukubamirai.
Warp Station Edo is a set for movies, TV dramas and commercials and contains reproductions of traditional Japanese houses. Seeing a whole bunch of traditional houses together, one can get the idea how a Japanese town might have looked like some 100-200 years ago.
The name is chosen quite nicely, as, according to Wikipedia, “a time warp is a hypothetical (…) change in the continuum of space-time”. “Warp Station Edo” therefore lets you travel in time and experience the feel of an old Edo town. Edo is the old name of Tokyo during the Tokugawa Shogunate from 1603 to 1868 (this time is thus called “Edo period” – 江戸時代). Many samurai movies, most notably those from director Akira Kurosawa, play during this time. Wandering through the alleys of Warp Station Edo, you almost expect stumbling across Yojimbo or Zatoichi (these are some famous characters of samurai movies).
The park does not only contain Edo style buildings, though. According to a Time Warp employee, there are also buildings from the Meiji and and Showa periods. Watch out for house with large glass windows, these are Meiji style buildings. However, I did not understand, where the Showa buildings were supposed to be.
The entrance of the park is through the long building next to the parking lot. At the time of my visit, the entrance was 410 Yen. You get a map in Japanese with the entrance ticket and if you ask for an English map, you get the Japanese map with handwritten translations of the five zones (see picture below). The park apparently does not get as many foreign visitors to justify translated maps. Still, a cute effort to help those who cannot read kanji.
According to the map, the park is divided into five zones:
- Edo shopping street zone
- Merchants’ house set zone
- Samurai residence zone
- Old Japanes apartment zone
- Downtown set zone
I walked through the park following the above order and I would recommend to do so, as the buildings get nicer in the last zones. It is never good to start with the hightlight, isn’t it?
Going out of the entrance building, I noticed some European looking false facades (I learnt later that these were Meiji style sets). By comparing to the drawing in the map, I figured that they replaced maybe some of the buildings of the Edo shopping street. Unfortunately, this part was closed for visitors, it seemed to be under construction.
The Edo shopping street (1) contains several wodden houses in a wide street. If the zone would not be called “shopping street”, I couldn’t have guessed that these buildings were supposed to be stores, though. When you go through thre street, don’t forget to peek into the alleys on the right, you can get some nice views to the little river and the bridges. At the end of the shopping street is a large warehouse and a samurai villa.
Turn to the left, to the Merchants’ house set zone (2). These are basically a bunch of huts, some of them are in a rather bad condition. I wonderer if it was intentional or if this part of the movie park is used less than the others.
Stepping through a town gate, you can see a castle surrounded by a moat. This area is called the Samurai residence zone (3). Inside the castle is a small square covered by sand. I thought seeing some imprints of hooves in the sand, maybe from a movie shooting? A smaller gate lets you in the Japanese garden, which looked a bit neglected.
Then I crossed the bridge to the Old japanese apartment zone (4). This zone is the nicest one, in my opinion. There are many wodden buildings, two round bridges, some little boats and you’ll discover certainly some other nice details. I got some information about the park from a Time Warp employee. That, in fact, it does not contain only Edo buildings and that shootings are done almost every other day (or half a month, as he said). Apparently, there was a famous, young movie star in the park on the day before my visit, and he did some training with the horse in the castle (I asked for the hoove imprints). Bad luck that I missed that spectacle. He suggested me to call in the morning around opening time (9:30 am) and to ask if a shooting takes place, if Iwould like to see the park in action. Maybe this would be nice for a second visit.
The Old Japanese apartment zone then lets place to the Downtown set zone where the Meiji style buildings are located. Upon closer inspection, you can see a change in architectural style (although I would maybe not have noticed without the explanations of the employee).
All in all, I spent around 90 min in the park, but I am the kind of person who tries to see every corner. A quicker visitor will finish faster, I’d say.
Warp Station Edo is in the countryside, I drove there by car, which seems to be the most convenient way of getting there. From Tsukuba Station, the ride is about 30 min.
Address: 1176 Minamiota, Tsukubamirai, Ibaraki Prefecture 300-2306, Japan
How to get there: I’d recommend by car. I think I saw a bus stop at the parking lot, but I guess that there are not many buses going there.
How far from Tsukuba: ~30 min by car
Who should visit? I recommend this park to Ibaraki residents who want to have a short excursion for a sunny day. If you come from another prefecture, combine this destination with other sightseeing spots (Ushiku daibutsu or Mount Tsukuba). If you are an overseas traveler, you might want to skip. Although nice, there are more spectacular sightseeing spots in Japan for your precious time.
Would you be interested in visiting Warp Station Edo or have you already visited this place? How did you like it? Do you like the “traditional” wooden Japanese houses?
Here are some other websites about Warp Station Edo: