Monday, Feb. 14, 2011

4. Toei Kyoto Studio Park

Yes, it's touristy, and yes, it's a bit tacky too, but dressing up as a samurai and watching TV actors hamming it up on set does hold a certain charm. Eigamura, or Kyoto Toei Studio Park to give it its English name, is a working TV and movie set that doubles as a theme park, where besides dressing up in period costume you can wander around a mock-up Edo-era samurai town and take in exhibitions of the well-known TV series and films shot here.

It's the live studio performances, however, that steal the show. The swordfights are extravagant, the facial expressions and body language overly dramatic, and the dialog at times delivered about as convincingly as an elementary school end-of-year play. It's Japanese kitsch at its finest. Quentin Tarantino would love it.

Eigamura is open daily from 9am to 5pm (9.30am to 4pm from Dec to Feb). Admission is ¥2,200, though you can get in for half that if you come dressed in a kimono. Take bus number 75 from Kyoto Station to the Uzumasa Eigamura-michi bus stop.