New Zealand Village is a place that is only suitable for a perfect weather, with nice breeze and a relaxed heart. It is one of the very few haikyo where you do not feel like you are trespassing at all; no worries for guards or police chasing after you, plenty of open space and fresh air, nothing really dangerous or disturbing, and the only sound you hear is frogs croaking and birds singing. Just as what you would have imagined about ‘New Zealand’.
Walking across the huge abandoned parking lot, the entrance is pretty much blocked completely by the ‘Canterbury’ gift shop. Finding a way to go beyond it took us quite a while. But once you beat this tiny difficulty at the beginning, you are left with peace, and peace only shall you have from now on. There is nothing, no one to take you out of this private wonderland. The calmness of this place is sure to slow your heart beat down for a bit or 2, which is not really common in this crazy land of rising sun.
The company owned this big New Zealand Farm is called Farm (ファーム in Japanese). The founder is a son of a Farmer who started by using his father’s Farmland to open the first Farm Park. The concept running Farm Parks has a really deep meaning behind; solving the waste of farmland caused by the decrease in Japanese population, especially in the countryside. It also creates employment opportunities even chances for people to sell farm products inside and around the park.
And of course not every Farm Park turns out successful, 3 out of 4 New Zealand Villages are out of business by now. A delightful news for urban explorers, but quite sad for the lovely Japanese countryside struggling to survive at this point. With this idea in mind, the visit seems a bit melancholic now. If we put things into perspectives by comparing Yamaguchi New Zealand Village with some popular amusement parks in Japan, you will probably see the difference in scales and understand why it cannot possibly generate enough revenue. Tokyo Disneyland has 25 millions visitors a year nowadays, the now abandoned Nara Dreamland used to have 1.6 million people visiting a year and ran out of business when the number dropped to 400,000. While the poor old Yamaguchi New Zealand park at its peak had only 428,000 visitors a year…No wonder….
The weather was not so stable during the day, but as it is approaching dawn it did gain some amazing pink colour. Still smelling the freshness after the rain, we started to walk a bit faster to capture the fascinating change of light. Although you fell like slowly strolling through every part of ‘New Zealand’, the sun will not wait for you. Walking through the grass towards a lake, I can imagine this being quite a nice hang out place around crowded Tokyo, but being in the country side already, why would you want to pay 600 yen to walk in a park? Apparently the part where you can touch the sheep is the most popular attraction… Maybe they do not have enough sheep in Yamaguchi prefecture…
But if we forget about the realistic facts a bit and to enjoy the present, relax and listen to the birds, nothing bad can happen. It is like you are already in heaven, so exclusive that you feels strangely safe. Light wind carries the annoying summer heat away, hidden birds singing some out of the world melodies that I have never heard of before.
If you type New Zealand Village into Google Image, you will see the real New Zealand countryside; sweet little cottages on the hills, often times with low roofs. Unfortunately in this abandoned farm park, we can only see the not very attractive big blocks, looking like boring office buildings. But luckily, there are not many of them at all. And if you are as curious as me to check the pictures of the same building while it was still in use, you will be even more disappointed. Some places are really better when abandoned and decayed.
It is in fact quite rare for us to feature a not so famous haikyo on Totoro times, in a big article. It was originally only to be listed on our Haikyo Blog, but the atmosphere of this place was so fresh and sweet, that we would like to give it a bit more publicity, assuming its vivid colour and amiable characteristics will gain some popularity at the end of the this crazy hot summer.
Inside this abandoned amusement park, there seem to be many car/bike related attractions. Some long tracks for bumper cars, a long slope with some old fashioned pure mechanical toy cars for children drivers, some 3 wheel bikes with strange pedals and some other varieties. I tried one of the bikes, not very easy to ride, no wonder why parents did not take them home when the park closes. I was trying to identify whether those strange 3 wheel pedal bikes are some New Zealand invention. But it does not seem to be the case.
As for the toy cars, I guess you are suppose to start from the top of this long slope and crash at the end of the trail. Sounds fun! I would have given it a try if only the car is not so wet from the rain. If you climb to the top of the slope, you will have a very nice view of the park. Presently it is sunset time, so we were lucky to get some quite good colours on the pictures.
I checked the only New Zealand village left open: the Tohoku New Zealand Village, the same bumper car and dangerous running down the slope toy cars are confirmed to be the same, but the pedal bikes remained a mystery. Wonder where the origin of that is.
Here are some delightful shots in through the infrared eyes. The quiet reflecting the always blue sky, all-year sakura trees, as well as nice white building hidden in the back, everything is perfect. The faint blue and pink is Japanese girls’ favorite, surely we would sell the infrared pictures well in Japan one day.
Now it is getting quite dark for our cameras, although the sky colour is very attractive, we decided to not disturb until too late. After all this park is returned back to nature completely, where it fits the most originally.
Not having many buildings and things left, I truly wish it can escape the vandalism and the mischievous kids. Peaceful and pure it should remain, and decay even further before our next visit.