by Lillian Csernica on November 29, 2015
Toei Studios is behind quite a diverse selection of entertainment, including Battle Royale, Kamen Rider, and Super Sentai, the origin of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. In the 1950s, samurai movies were hugely popular, as proven by Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo, just to name a few.
I love lion dogs (aka fu dogs or shishi), so I was delighted to encounter this enormous guardian on the way into the park.
Actors from one of the live stage shows. At last I’ve learned the secrets of how they anchor those samurai wigs in place. Aren’t the kimono gorgeous?
This charming lady is Naomi Oishi, an actress in one of the samurai television dramas. Pat and I had a wonderful time talking to her.
The main reason we went to Toei Studios was to see the Oiran Parade. Here she is, the Oiran herself, in full magnificent costume. Look at that wig! Aside from paintings of Madame de Pompadour, I have never seen a wig that complicated!
Yuriko, the heroine of my Flower Maiden Saga, starts out having been raised to be an oiran. Tendo, the hero, carries her off before the bad guy can sell Yuriko for political favors. The bad guy will stop at nothing to find Yuriko and kill Tendo!
Here I am with the three actors who perform the sword fight demonstration. The man to my left is いわす とおる, Toru Iwasu. He plays Hijikata Toshizo, one of the founding members of the Shinsengumi. There are many movies and TV series about the Shinsengumi. They were an important part of the Tokugawa Era. The other two actors are stuntmen who are very good at making the fight choreography look real.
What would a trip to a Japanese movie studio be without seeing a giant monster? This is the canal set, where some scenes really are filmed. Water jets shot up from the two floating logs, and then the monster came bubbling up out of the water. This was all kinds of fun. The little kids nearby came running to watch. I was ready to grab them so they didn’t fall in!
The park also features a Haunted House. Pat and I are both big fans of ghosts, monsters, and folklore. I avoid haunted house attractions because they’re usually more gory than scary. When Pat suggested going through the Haunted House, I had to do it. After all, Japanese ghosts and monsters are very different from the frights we find in the West. Once again, we set off on a dangerous mission of research!
First stop: the Haunted Forest. I knew there was a person in the trees off to my left. It must have been a woman, to judge from the creepy ululating cry. That distracted me just enough so I didn’t see the tree until it started to fall on me. Well, that got the adrenalin pumping. I’m just going to come right out and admit I was so scared I could hardly make myself keep moving forward. By the time we got to the room where all the dolls had bleeding eyes, I was ready to run for it. In that room a guy popped out of a hidden panel. He’s lucky Pat didn’t whack him!
Toei Kyoto Studio Park is not an amusement park in the sense we Americans understand it, i.e. a lot of carnival rides that will make you want to throw up. Instead, it’s living history much like the Renaissance Faire. The actors I spoke to knew their history and were more than happy to pose for photos. I consider this adventure to be one of the high points of my visit to Kyoto.