Toei Movie Land

The highlight of our trip to Japan was the three days we spent in Kyoto. Taeko, a former student at UH who now lives in Osaka, graciously offered to show us around the area. Our older daughter, Lisa, and one of her roommates, Tiffany, had joined us in Tokyo a couple of days before, and they came along with us for this special weekend.

We traveled on one of Japan's high speed Shinkansen trains. The trip from Tokyo to Kyoto (231 miles as the crow flies) can be made in as little as 2 hours and 20 minutes, but the train we took made all local stops so it took 3 hours and 44 minutes. The seats are very comfortable with lots of leg room. A food cart goes by periodically, but you can bring your own meals and beverages onto the train. On the return trip, the guy seated next to me enjoyed several cans of beer. The conductor and the woman with the food cart bow each time they enter and leave the train car.

Taeko and her sister Yoshimi met us at the station. After a short ride on another train and a pleasant walk, we arrived at Toei Movie Land - a theme park where many Samurai movies and television dramas are filmed. There is an entire village to wander through, a theatre where a highly amusing acrobatic Samurai show is presented, and a movie studio where you can see how Samurai shows are filmed. Characters in period costumes roam the streets, and you can even dress up in a costume yourself. The village, of course, offers many opportunities for posing and picture-taking, and being generally silly.

These pictures are taken at a special effects pool in the park. Initially a small stream flows quietly past a little house. Suddenly, the ground begins to shake and the flow of water in the stream increases dramatically. You can see what happens next.