The pandemic has made it hard to leave the borders, hasn’t it? While it’s an absolute privilege to be living in a foreign country as a professional or a student. When you’re in Korea, you have places like Japan only two hours by plane. It’s hard to resist the urge to country hop. Luckily for us, we can still experience the feeling of being in other nearby Asian countries through attractions like Nijimura Studio without having to leave Korea and spend weeks upon weeks in quarantine.
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t allowed to go anywhere because of the many travel restrictions that won’t go away for a while. Instead of getting stuck in a rut and being bummed about the lack of freedom to cross the borders. Why not take a new approach?
If you do your research, you will see that Korea has a lot to offer travel-wise. Once you knock off the touristy things in Seoul like the palaces, Lotte Tower, N. Seoul tower, etc. you are left with other marvelous treasures that only the locals seem to know. And one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a country is to appreciate it at a local level.
Honestly, someone needs to give someone an award for the imagination and creativity that goes into these local places. You will be mind blown at some of the details that go into a cafe, a restaurant, or even an amusement park. Stroll through the streets of Petite France or transport yourself to the jungles of Thailand with an eatery in Jongo-gu. The possibilities and explorations of being in a different world are endless here.
One of the places that have been a hotspot on Instagram in recent months is the Nijimura Studios just North of Seoul. You can find it through reels and using the hashtag #nijimurastudio. Originally, it was a filming location for dramas and movies. Eventually, it became a charming, local hotspot. Nijimura Studio immerses you in the “land of the rising sun.”
This film set replicates a traditional Japanese village with shrines scattered throughout the studio. You can enter small shops through sliding doors, and lanterns decorate the curved roofs. If you have ever been to Japan before, it is just like traditional neighborhoods that can be found all over Japan. When you enter Nijimura Studio, you get the same feeling of Japanese tradition surrounding you.
How to Get There
Usually, you will find some amazing, trendy places to visit somewhere in the countryside. Then it’s a bummer when you realize you need a car, or transportation will be hard to coordinate. Thankfully, Nijimura Studio isn’t a complete pain in the butt to get to.
It’s easy to go there via the Seoul subway. Wherever your starting point is, take Line 1 (dark blue line) to Dongducheon Station. Once you arrive at the station, it’s better to take a taxi for around 15 minutes (around 7,000won) to the studio. A bus is an option as well, but again people, we are in the countryside, so you can’t expect the same speedy convenience as Seoul.
At the entrance of the studio, you’ll find a kiosk where you can buy your ticket, which is 20,000won. The employee at the ticket office will also assist you if you have any trouble due to language barriers. Once you have your ticket, you are free to explore the studio!
All of the Wonders of Traditional Japan
Nijimura is pretty small. It will probably only take you an hour and a half to marvel at the scenery and snap some photos. The shops line the streets as soon as you walk in. The first shop you’ll see is a trinket shop with random glasses and ceramic dolls from different countries. There is also a collection of Maneki Neku (traditional Japanese lucky cats) all over this store. There are a lot of vintage and antique items that you can buy. If you are into rare and pricey souvenirs, this is the place for you.
Like the Hanbok, Japan also has its traditional-style dress. The Kimono is a T-shaped robe that you wrap around your body, it is then accented with a pretty belt. There are a ton of colors to choose from at this rental shop. You can go for bold prints, florals, and ones that look like Nihonga (traditional Japanese paintings). An employee at the shop will assist you with the fitting. You can also get some cute accessories like a purse, clips, fans, and Geta, the platform wooden sandals.
The shop also has an upstairs with some “interesting” antique and vintage items. You can take a peek at your own risk.
Base price for Kimono rental: 30,000won
Accessories and other add ons are between 3,000-5,000won
The good thing about this rental shop is that there is no time limit. Put on the fit and snap away as you roam around the park.
The next place to stop by is the snack shop. All of the items in the shop are imported from Japan, so you know you’re getting the real deal. It’s also relatively cheap for being imported! In this store, you’ll find a plethora of food from Japanese-style ramen, jellies, cookies, chips, and the list goes on. There are even random lego sets inspired by famous sites in Japan like the Imperial Palace.
Other than sushi, what is Japan’s holy grail food? That’s right! It’s a hearty bowl of ramen. There are two places in the area where you can have a nice meal at. The sushi restaurant is a bit more pricey (20,000 won or more) but it has sushi sets that you can also share with another person. However, the ramen shop is much more affordable. The average price is around 10,000 won. Additionally, it has both traditional floor seating and regular seating.
The menu only has a couple of flavor options including miso, pork, beef, and chicken. The miso flavor is for sure the right move. It’s rich and flavorful without being too salty. Since we’re in Korea, you can expect to be given side dishes like white kimchi and radish to go with your ramen.
Antiques and Trinkets
In this shop, you can find random vintage items like a typewriter, hairpins, fans, birthstone necklaces, and so much more. It’s interesting to see the collection of importance that they have from Japan and the rest of the world. If you’re big on souvenirs, check this place out to take a piece of Nijimura with you.
There can’t be an attraction in Korea without a cafe. Surprisingly there is only one coffee and tea shop located at the studio. If you’re expecting a traditional Japanese tea shop, that’s not really what you’re getting. This place is decorated with a mish-mosh of vintage furniture, which gives it character.
On the menu, you can choose from hot coffees and lattes, but they also have a nice tea menu. Grab yourself a pastry to accompany your tea and appreciate the ambiance of the past with the Victorian-Style furniture and vintage photos.
Despite all of the travel restrictions, hopefully, you’re taking the time to appreciate Korea for all that it has to offer. Why not have a Japanese staycation at the Nijimura Studio?
Nijimura Studio Address: Gyeonggi-do, Dongducheon-si, Cheonbosan-ro, 567-12 KR Operating Hours: 11:00 AM - 09:00 PM Directions: Jihang Station (Line 1) Exit 2. Come out of the station, walk straight and cross the street. Turn right at Ouri Bank to find HyunJin Apartment bus stop. There, take bus number 60 to Jangrimgyoap. Walk straight, then take your first right. The walk will take around 8 minuites.
If you were disappointed in the lack of Japanese cafes at Nijimura studio, don’t worry! >>Click Here << to read all about Miz Coffee, a Japanese-style cafe in Gunsan.