Abandoned Amusement Parks in Japan
A clear sky, rising temperature, it feels like holidays. Perfect time to pay a new visit to a few abandoned amusement parks! After my series dedicated to abandoned hospitals and forgotten schools, I didn’t wanted to let you down so here is a post dedicated to amusement parks. Follow me for a haikyo trip around the world… while staying in Japan.
Tenkaen: The Chinese Park
Summer 2012. We just landed on Hokkaido and are already on the road. I feel like I am driving in a foreign country: the landscape looks wider, hilly and the air feels so much fresher than in Tokyo!
The abandoned Chinese park is easy to find. The pagoda appears clearly among the vegetation and can be seen from afar.
We park our car in front of the entrance. Nobody’s there and the park is only protected by some very small barrier, a few centimeters’ high. The sky is clearing and this haikyo is going to be an enjoyable and easy exploration. A promising morning.
The atmosphere is realistic and reminds me the year I spent in China. Ocher colors, worm-eaten wood. Decay adds some character to the place in a positive way, we could think we are in a version of the Summer Palace that would have been left to the ravages of time.
Everything is there, the Moon Gate, the pagoda and a sort of garden that reminds me Kunming’s Stone Forest. Let’s go to the top of the pagoda have a global view of the park.
The park was built in 1992 and closed only 7 years later. Together with several other parks, it had been created to attract visitors in the area but alas…
We will visit another abandoned park in Hokkaido later. In the meantime if you want to see more photos on Tenkaen, you’ll find some here.
Kejonuma Leisure Land
Autumn 2011. I discovered the Japanese website Deflation Spiral when I settled in Japan in 2008. It is the most popular website about haikyo even if it hasn’t changed that much during the last years. A colleague had shared with us an incredible picture taken by this photographer: an abandoned big wheel in the middle of a forest.
Yet my passion for haikyo did not break out at this moment. But the picture of this abandoned big wheel remained engraved in me for years.
In 2010, following a friend’s advice, I buy my first DSLR camera. Then I needed a shooting subject for the week end but I had only one idea in mind: to find back this abandoned big wheel. Although unaware of it, I was already an urbex seeker, a haikyoist.
My research led me to a former haikyo now wiped out. Never mind, there must be others! I discovered then Michael John Grist’s website, a British haikyoist. He has visited dozens of them but I really clicked on this one, The Sports World. No big wheel in this abandoned aquatic park unfortunately, but a strong virus lies there: after this visit, it became impossible for me to spend a week end without visiting a haikyo!
But I’m wandering from the point…where am I now ? I’m in Tohoku with Nikozouji, a Japanese who has been visiting haikyo for longer than I did. I have a lot of respect for him and his group because they spend a lot of time finding new haikyo and do their best to protect them. The hobby would probably not be the same without them…
The road to Kejonuma Leisure Land is battered and cracked. 2011’s earthquake hit really hard there. Nevertheless, the small children park looks incredibly serene. 15 years of silence…
But here we are, there is a nicely rusted big wheel in this small amusement park. That’s the first photo subject I was dreaming about. I take the opportunity to put Yoko in one of the capsules. There’s no much more to see and shoot in this place but it became immediately on of my favorite haikyo.
Maybe the use of a figurine is a bit weird ? I used to play with these for months but I never did it again after. I like the idea of adding a bit of life in an abandoned place but the point is that these figurines are a bit hentaï-fashioned…or maybe should I try with a Totoro?
I’am visiting Akita’s prefecture for the first time, along with a 18 years old haikyoist, Mimi (that’s her name!). She takes some great pictures and I really admire her work and boldness. Ah, to my knowledge there’s only one thing that frightens her : bears !! It’s past midnight and the path to the mining plant we wanted to explore is blocked by snow. We make up for it with the stunning view on the Milky Way but Mimi doesn’t dare to get out from the car : some noises are coming out from the thickets ! Ok, I must admit that I am not that reassured neither. After a few shots, we leave for the Russian Village. The sun is rising.
Mimi reminds me that many explorers got caught there and there are many warning panels nearby the entrance. We enter carefully but once inside it’s safe.
The Russian Village is one of the first abandoned leisure parks in Japan I’ve seen pictures about, but that’s actually the last I have visited.
It was built in 1993 and many surprises can be found inside : a gigantic hotel, a replica of Souzdal Church, small shops and a circus, with a mammoth nearby.
The Russian village is one of the most wrecked haikyo but it still has a sort of charm in it. To really enjoy it, we should go back there during the winter.
You will find a few additional photos on my haikyo website.
Summer 2012. During a trip on Hokkaido with Hoshino-san and Jing, I decided to visit Gluck Kingdom. I am a bit nervous about it because it seems that the local police spends a lot of time watching the park.
We are welcomed by numerous signs KEEP OUT and NO ENTRY and by a kind of wrecked scarecrow placed on barb-wires. In addition to that, we know that this is the perfect season for strolls for our bear cubs friends…
After a rainy night, the sky clears but not completely. These are not perfect conditions but we access to the park without any problems .
Gluck Kingdom is a really comprehensive haikyo with its german medieval village and amusement park. It takes hours to visit everything. If you want to see more photos, go this way.
2010. I don’t understand my Japanese explorer friend very well and he is the one who organised our haikyo-holidays. Each spot is a complete surprise but usually it’s an enjoyable one. These are still my first haikyo and I am really excited by the idea of visiting my first abandoned leisure park.
The entrance is protected in a very basic way. It appears clearly that nobody is taking care anymore of the park or of the dangers its new tourists could encounter. After a jump over the tiny barbwire barrier, we find ourselves standing in front of a wagon. Not far away lies an old SL. The rails run through the heart of the forest.
This section of the park is separated from the genuine Western Village by a local version of the Rio Grande, figured by a small stream. I take the opportunity of the great weather and vegetation thickness and to make some infrared shots.
We find there many small houses which were probably used as shops and various booths. Palm trees and snow covered mountains son’t remind that much the USA…
We arrive at the end and cross the old bridge leading to Westerne Village.
The village is incredible : we feel kike strolling in a Far West abandoned village ! The park was built by a local guy named Ominami-san. As he says in this article, “the purpose in life is not to earn money but to make dreams come true”. It’s difficult to contradict him but… his park is now a real ruin…
When it opened in 1975, the Western Village was a simple american-looking farm. But Ominami-san made his park grow every year, to the detriment of profitable. In 1995, he even added a copy of the famous Mount Rushmore to the Western Village, seemingly on an impulse. Today, the small thematic park is completely forgotten, with no hope in reopening again.
I will visit again Western Village 3 times in the future, and each time I will realize that as some new doors open, some get closed. This place is abandoned but still changing from time to time due to his visitors.
Of course, you’ve heard about Nara Dreamland, isn’t it ? This is the best abandoned leisure park in Japan and I have been there several times, at different moments. If you are attracted by these 2 photos, come and see more of them on my article dealing with Abandoned Rollercoasters.
Did you already visit such places? If yes, please share your photos. And if you are craving for similar articles, you can visit my dedicated rubric Urban Exploring, you will discover many ruined jewels!