“Japanese history is nothing but torture, assassination, murder, and suicide,” says Slasher-san proudly as we dash about Nikko Edo Mura, AKA the Nikko Edo Wonderland theme park, gorging ourselves on cheap thrills.
Earlier, a van of us, going
north. Pilgrims to a public bathhouse resort and various temples. Human beehives of Kawaguchi and approving nods to
the Saitama love hotels. They give way to hills full of fall leaves that hug us all weekend. Old
women hobble about in the street clutching bags of vegetables, passing massive
and abandoned pachinko parlors, or empty parking lots. Later, we all get naked and jump into hot tubs with complete strangers. But first...
Stop one. Nikko Edo Mura.
Imagine Ren Faire, jidai-geki style. Costume performers stroll through the ersatz streets of old Japan. The family eats yakitori, and the kids beg for plastic swords, and you pay for it all in ryo. But stray off the main paths and it starts to get wacky.
Statue of a ninja sticking to the ceiling inside a funhouse. By the looks of him, he's been up there since at least the 17th century. Bonus points for having only one eye and being covered in dust.
As every student of Japanese history knows, the biggest problem during the old days were the hooded skeletons who ran around with strobe lights just below their rib cages. They kept one in the funhouse behind some chicken wire, one of the main design motifs of Edo Wonderland.
The cheerful Hell Temple welcomes vistors from around the world with a selection of oni torture instruments as seen in such movies as Jigoku (1961), Jigoku (1978), and Jigoku (1999).
Apparently, you die when you enter the hell temple. A big anamatronic Enma, the king of hell, then passes judgement on you. *Spoilers* He sentences you to hell. *End Spoilers*
One of the damned being having no fun at all in "the hell."
...and then this weird Venus Fly Trap looking-thing comes out, and...and...
...and then the Buddha comes out on a giant gold lotus and saves your dumb ass. I figured that had to be worth at least a beer run.
At the dark end of Edo Mura is the jailhouse. The families are nowhere in sight and the place really kicks into high gear. Here's a criminal being captured, probably for making noises in the middle of the night.
Two very good men appy heavy stone tablets to a very naughty woman's lap, while she sits on a slab of corrugated wood. Serves her right!
I am not making this up: tiny speakers play a funky music cue, you hear the sound effects of a woman getting whacked with a wooden stick, followed by her lavacious moans. Suddenly, you're in a Teruo Ishii movie.
DIY diagrams lie about the place so you can relive the fun and adventure at home.
The next stop: a replica of the house of a thousand corpses from Chushingura. Inside, men sit around giving and receiving head.
A lease-breaking party, Shinsengumi-style.
Damn. Homeboy's face...
Sorry this one isn't as gory as the others, but dig the totally menacing Mito Komon there in the middle, looking nothing like his cheerful TV show counterpart.
Too bad the Warring States era put an end to all the fun.
Afterwards, we cooled off at the ninja stage show. The guy on the right is Hattori Hanzo. He's about to get killed by his kohai on the left. Afterwards, a bunch of women mobbed the actors for autographs and pics. Ninja groupies.
Too bad they fucking hate foreigners, just like in the real Edo era. After this photo was taken, I was crucified, dismembered, and beaten about the ding dong with a pair of little sticks. Serves me right.