"I don't know how to feel about cosplaying"
That was the first thing that comes to mind when I heard I was going to Boso no Mura, an open-air museum that lets you cosplay in a traditional Japanese town.
I was in Chiba prefecture for a work trip, which is an hour away from Tokyo, and have never heard of this place. While my mind is filled with thoughts of anime cosplay (the only kind I know), I was very excited to explore something new in Japan!
Where to start
Since it was my first time exploring Chiba prefecture, I joined the Narita Airport Transit & Stay program
. You can find the counter at Narita Airport's Terminal 1 and 2 (Arrival Hall). Led by English-speaking tour guides, it's a free guided tour that shows you around Chiba.
The program has 5 guided tours and I chose 'Cosplay In An Edo Period Reproduction In Sakae Town'. The tour starts at 9.30AM, so I left my luggage at the baggage delivery first. And this cosplay experience takes 3 hours to complete.
Although it's a free guided tour, I was required to bring some pocket money to cover expenses such as entrance fee, transportation, and costume rental. The cost varies across all tours, and for my Cosplay tour, I had to bring JPY1,600. Getting here
Taking the public transport in Japan can be confusing. Thankfully, our guide was around to show us the right train and bus to take. Phew!
If you're planning to visit on your own, here's how:
- From JR Narita station, go to Bus Stop 4 (in front of Family Mart) and take a 10-minute bus ride bound for Ryukakujidai Shako.
- Alight at Ryukakujidai Ni-chome bus stop and walk for 10 minutes to reach Boso no Mura
Welcome to Boso no Mura
It feels surreal to step out of bustling Narita Airport and into somewhere serene like Boso no Mura. Every bit of it feels like a movie set, but it's in fact, an open-air museum featuring a replica of a traditional Japanese village built during the Edo period (1603-1868). Before exploring further into Boso no Mura, it's time to dress the part!
Time for cosplay
When I arrived at Cosplay Annexe, I knew I was looking for something else to wear besides the usual Japanese kimono. When I heard that I could dress up as a samurai or ninja, I was thrilled!
Back in the days, there were only male samurai in old Japan, so having the chance to wear it that day truly excites me.
The problem is, the samurai outfit has many layers and requires various tying techniques. I was very grateful that the shop assistants were there to the rescue and helped me with costume fitting.
They even gave me a plastic sword and wooden sandals to complete my final look! I've never felt this badass in a really long time haha!
Samurai for an afternoon
Now that I've dressed the part, it's time to play the part. If you're like me, you should visit the Samurai House. It's a replica of a medium-sized wooden hut that belongs to a middle-ranking samurai. It has minimally-furnished living room and bedroom (just like a ryokan) as well as a cute vegetable garden to pose for pictures.
Another Insta-worthy spot I'd recommend is the Inari Shrine featuring a row of bright red torii gates. The rest of the group completely missed the torii gates, so look for the public restroom and you will find it. If you want to stand out even more, choose a dark samurai outfit - just like mine!
The charming thing about Boso no Mura is the long stretch of traditional merchant houses that you'll walk past. The intricate details of traditional Japanese architecture really amazes me - and I bet you will feel the same way too.
One fun thing about these merchant houses is that it carries its own speciality, and it was fun guessing what it is! The photo above is an interior of a papier-mache shop - similar to the ones we did in school but of course, theirs are ten times better.
Since I love admiring Japanese ceramics, I spent more time at the Pottery shop than the clothing, handicraft, tatami mat and woodworking shops. You'll definitely find your favourite shop here too.
Some merchant houses run interactive classes where visitors can learn to decorate a conical candle, paint papier-mache or make tatami coasters. I wished I had more time to attend a class. The price is between JPY20 and JPY350 per class.
Now, it's time to head back! Once I returned my costume to Cosplay Annexe, I can't help browsing the souvenir section. Part of me regretted not getting the ninja sword pencil for JPY450. It was super cute!
If you're looking for a unique thing to do in Tokyo, I would recommend samurai cosplay in Boso no Mura! Personally, it's different from the usual kimono dress-up and also one of the rare chances for women to dress up as a samurai! Since it's so close to Narita Airport, there's really no excuse to skip this attraction for a very cool holiday snapshot.