by

A common misconception about Japan is that it’s so densely populated that every single town is just like Tokyo; urban, people all crammed together, few empty spaces. Not only are there still tons of rural places in Japan, but there are even abandoned places, places that were simply left behind to rot. The Japanese call these places haikyo (廃墟).

Some of the creepiest of all haikyo in Japan are amusement parks. Places where poeople used to gather to have fun or go on vacation now sit vacant to rust and become overrun by nature. And while not all of Japan’s abandoned parks are as creepy as rusty ol’ clown car above, some of them come pretty damn close.

Why do so many amusement parks fail? It seems kind of strange that so many amusement parks would simply just close shop.

There are a bunch of different reasons why amusement parks go out of business:

  • Bigger Parks: Places like Universal Studios and Disneyland have put a lot of smaller parks out of business. Why would you go to some no-name amusement park when you can go see freakin’ Mickey Mouse?!
  • Failing Banks: Lots of smaller parks were financed by banks that gave bad loans, or failed for other reasons. With those banks gone, the amusement parks couldn’t afford to stay open.
  • Other Asian Parks: Lots of new amusement parks are opening up all across Asia too, which has brought attention and attendance away from Japanese amusement parks. Countries like China and South Korea are experiencing a kind of amusement park boom, while Japan’s amusement parks have kind of peaked.

Lots of these failed amusement parks have been either abandoned or torn down completely. Lots of people have taken it upon themselves to explore these abandoned parks and provide us all with nightmare fuel. Let’s take a look at some of the creepiest abandoned amusement parks in Japan.

[hr]

Takakanonuma Greenland

The closest you'll get to Silent Hill without putting a pyramid on your head.

Takakanonuma Greenland was an amusement park that opened up in the mid-70s and quickly closed down. In 1986, the park tried to open back up again after being closed down for about 10 years, but quickly failed again. Since its final closure, the park and its huge roller coasters have become overgrown by local plants and nearly completely rusted over. Still, that hasn’t stopped intrepid explorers from climbing all over these rabies hazards.

And for some reason, nearly every picture I’ve found of Takakanonuma Greenland has been in a dense fog. While some might attribute this to the local climate or the time of year these pictures were taken, I’d like to say that there’s so much fog because this place is creepy as hell.

[hr]

Nara Dreamland

Nara Dreamland it its glory days

It’s hard to imagine now, but when Disneyland first opened up back in 1955 it was a pretty big deal. There weren’t really many other amusement parks that were as big or that paid such attention to detail.

Some people visited Disneyland to try to capture all the magic. Some people built their own.

Nara Dreamland, which was built in 1961, was in a lot of ways a straight-up copy of the original Disneyland, complete with jungle cruise, monorail, and main street. If you compare maps of the two, they’re pretty much identical.

What Nara Dreamland looks like today

In 1983, Tokyo Disneyland finally opened. After Disney had an official presence in Japan, Nara Dreamland began its long and slow decline. The killing blow came when Universal Studios opened up its own park in nearby Osaka in 2001. Nara Dreamland closed down shortly thereafter in 2006.

How about an enchanting jungle cruise?

The park itself is still standing and largely untouched, so there are lots of unofficial visitors exploring and photographing the park.

[hr]

Gulliver’s Kingdom

"Just getting my eyes brushed in the shadow of Mount Fuji. No big deal."

Gulliver’s Kingdom was an amusement park based off the classic British book “Gulliver’s Travels,” which follows a British sailor who travels around the world finding strange and interesting civilizations. You might recognize the book’s most famous scene where the main character, Gulliver, is tied to the ground by an army of tiny people.

Unfortunately, Gulliver’s Kingdom had its own set of unique problems. The park didn’t have the best neighbors ever. Not only was it right by Japan’s infamous “suicide forest,” and was close to Kamikuishiki, a town that was home to the Aum Shinrikyo cult that launched a terrorist attack on Japan in 1995.

Needless to say, the area wasn’t a huge tourist attraction. People probably even avoided being in the area.

The park opened in 1998. Very few people came to visit, so the park was forced to close in 2001. The thing is, the park wasn’t demolished until 2007, which meant that for six whole years it became overgrown, decayed, and vandalized until it had reached a nice, ripe state of creepiness.

For a less terrifying Gulliver’s Travels experience, you can always watch the God-awful Jack Black movie (or, y’know, read the book).

[hr]

Koga Family Land

Koga Family Land (also sometimes unfortunately known as Koga Family Rand) was yet another small, independent amusement park that failed in the mid-90s. It stood abandoned for nearly 20 years before finally being torn down in 2008.

No creepy place is complete without kids' drawings.

Up until the park was torn down, many different buildings and rides remained, including a restaurant, a cart ride, and a Ferris wheel that made terrifying noises when the wind blew.

Check out this video from Florian from Abandoned Kansai to get a good idea about how empty this place is:

You guys got "phoenix" right but not "land?" C'mon!

[hr]

If you want to read up more on haikyo, check out these awesome sites:

P.S.: Don’t wanna have abandoned theme park nightmares? Better follow us on Twitter.
P.P.S.: Want to embrace real-life Silent Hills? Like us on Facebook


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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000808001962 Erica Dietlein

    I love creepy abandoned amusement/theme parks!  The one at the top is the best. ^_^

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000808001962 Erica Dietlein

    I love creepy abandoned amusement/theme parks!  The one at the top is the best. ^_^

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001079326564 Michael Baltazar

    Disney? Universal? I bet pretty soon six flags will step into Japan.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Yeah, that’d be pretty cool! It looks like Six Flags filed for bankruptcy a few years back though, so probably not anytime soon :P

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Glad you liked the post! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=654807674 Steven Mitchell

    Wow, the Takakanonuma Greenland actually looks like a lot of fun…Very beautiful! Though i suppose I wouldn’t want to go there at night…
    Also, did anyone else think of “Spirited Away” when they read this? Because I definitely did!

  • Anonymous

    My favorite one would have to be the Greenland one. Love to be able to see that one in a multiplayer game.

  • Kintaro

    I know what sites I’m visiting when i go back over for the holidays!!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Be sure to take lots of pictures! :D

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Yeah, I was thinking about talking about Spirited Away, but I wasn’t clever enough to fit it in there. :(

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    That would definitely be pretty awesome! Sneaking around in the fog underneath giant roller coasters.

  • http://halcyonrealms.com blauereiter

    Wow. That was certainly educational. I love the first picture of Takakanonuma Greenland, with the roller coaster tracks fading into the fog. Reminds me of Silent Hill completely, as you mentioned.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lawnmower16 Daniel Fawson

    I just wanted to say that this is an amazing post. There hasn’t been one this good for a while. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, for real. I’m surprised Black Ops didn’t do this instead of the zoo.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Or Nuke Town -_-

  • http://twitter.com/elainevanepps Carol Finkenstadt

    I remember going to Nara Dreamland back in 2003.  It sported the only restaurant where I couldn’t eat the food in my two years in Japan (and I ate out a lot).  I didn’t think it was possible for curry to be messed up, but the folks working there at the time proved me wrong.

  • ゴゴゴゴゴゴースト~!

     Oh, that’s not fog. It’s highly concentrated creepiness. It’s the kind of thing that makes the “auuuu-auuuu-kerSHUNK” noises and makes people instinctively mutter “probably just a cat…”  before wandering further in.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2UMEDPM7FI4MFLNPPYYHLJT37E Guozhong Xu

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  • Dave

    Interesting stuff. I live in Osaka so I’m definitely going to take the train to Nara and climb around the eerie wreckage of Dreamland. 
    Just one small correction: Gulliver’s Travels is an Irish book, written by Jonathan Swift, who was born in Dublin. 

  • Dave

    Interesting stuff. I live in Osaka so I’m definitely going to take the train to Nara and climb around the eerie wreckage of Dreamland. 
    Just one small correction: Gulliver’s Travels is an Irish book, written by Jonathan Swift, who was born in Dublin. 

  • Ziern

    I died a bit when I saw Family Rand ^^

  • http://www.meow.fr TigrouMeow

    Hello there, I was just wondering @TofuguHashi:disqus , do you know my website about haikyo? The one in English / Japanese (haikyo.org). Not that I’m sad not to be found here, but I just wondered, is my SEO such a calamity or what? :p Just want to know if you knew its existence or not :)

  • Kaku Rai

    Hilarious post! My coworkers and I all had an uproarious time with it. Thanks and thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Zerokeemu Kim McInally

    What in the hell I swear you guys are reading my mind. I actually found out about the abandoned gullivers park yesterday , how I came across it was just random picture browsing, and now this article :o spooky indeed.

    But also very cool I would have visited  these (in their abandoned state) if I could. :D
    Also like the Silent Hill reference.

  • http://mistersanity.blogspot.com Jonadab

    This sort of thing has happened all over the world.

    Over the years, the standards for what a place has to be to be successful as an amusement park have climbed markedly, as the competition got fiercer, and a lot of the ones that couldn’t cut the mustard were closed down and abandoned simply because they couldn’t pay for their own operation.  

    In the first half of the twentieth century, you could operate an amusement park in a smaller community with little more than a picnic area, duck pond, loudspeaker system, and maybe a dance floor.  By the sixties you needed a ride of some kind, maybe a ferris wheel.  (There’s an abandoned park from that era a couple of miles from my house.)  By the seventies you had to have a roller coaster, which is pretty, and a lot of parks couldn’t afford to do it — or didn’t have enough ongoing business to keep paying the upkeep.  In the eighties the taller/steeper/faster coaster wars started…  

    The standard for keeping an amusement park competitive now is something along the lines of at least half a dozen coasters that broke world records when they were put in, at least three of which should be hypercoasters or better, plus a waterpark section, a marina, at least two on-site hotels, and an advertising budget that includes nation-wide television ads.  Anything less goes bankrupt.  

    Some parks manage to substitute some different kind of attraction in place of the big coasters, but it has to be something similarly impressive.  Disney World is the best example of this: they have only a meager handful of extremely rinky-dink coasters, but the park remains successful due to an impressive preponderance of alternative attractions.

    Just a few years ago, Cedar Fair (the outfit behind Cedar Point and various lesser parks) acquired two formerly very popular parks in Aurora, Ohio (on the south side of Greater Cleveland, so you know there was plenty of population around to serve) across a small lake from one another. One used to be Sea World and was subsequently acquired by Bush Gardens.  The other, called Geauga Lake, was a traditional amusement park with perhaps half a dozen roller coasters (three of any real consequence) and a lot of smaller rides.  They turned one of the properties into a water park, which I think still operates, and they closed the other one down entirely.  Cedar Fair is in the business of operating amusement parks, so if they closed them down you’ve got to assume they were no longer economically viable.  

    Sea World let the Aurora site go in the first place because their all-shows approach wasn’t competing well against King’s Island (which has both shows *and* coasters, including one current world record holder, albeit for one of the less important records).  Geauga Lake just failed to keep up with building new rides.  They had been running behind in that regard for several decades and it finally reached its logical conclusion.

    The fact that they converted one of them into a water park is interesting, as well.  Presumably, a water park is cheaper to operate than a full-blown amusement park.

  • http://twitter.com/Alessa Pascale

    Creepy, so creepy… I LOVE it! XD
    Thanks for sharing

  • Marraddonna

    Haha, brilliant.  We have a Gulliver’s Kingdom in the UK.  It’s similarly run-down and creepy looking, but somehow still open!

  • http://twitter.com/HEBU HEBU/DAREDEVIL

    Good ruins photo!!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Glad to hear it! :D

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    You know, I don’t think I ever did a search for just “haikyo.” I mostly looked for information about certain parks, so I don’t think I ever came across your site :(

    When I search for “haikyo” now though, I see that your site is like number 3, so I think you’re doing pretty well with SEO :D

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    You know, I don’t think I ever did a search for just “haikyo.” I mostly looked for information about certain parks, so I don’t think I ever came across your site :(

    When I search for “haikyo” now though, I see that your site is like number 3, so I think you’re doing pretty well with SEO :D

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Wow, very interesting! I’ve never seen such a comprehensive history of amusement parks before.

  • Benoit

    I’d use those to make epic paintball field !

  • Kiriain

    I’m sure Slenderman goes to these places when he vacations.

  • Kiriain

    I’m sure Slenderman goes to these places when he vacations.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    D:

  • MistressCatgirl

    It’s like every time he rounded a corner or corridor I expected some freak job or bum to jump out at him. I like pics of abandoned places but video makes me feel like I’m there with the person filming.

  • MistressCatgirl

    It’s like every time he rounded a corner or corridor I expected some freak job or bum to jump out at him. I like pics of abandoned places but video makes me feel like I’m there with the person filming.

  • http://abandonedkansai.wordpress.com/ Florian / Abandoned Kansai

    Thanks a lot for mentioning my blog – it’s much appreciated!
    I just added another location, an abandoned amusement park in Kyushu, barely known to the net – so please keep coming back, there are at least 30 locations waiting to be published and I keep exploring…

  • http://abandonedkansai.wordpress.com/ Florian / Abandoned Kansai

    Thanks a lot for mentioning my blog – it’s much appreciated!
    I just added another location, an abandoned amusement park in Kyushu, barely known to the net – so please keep coming back, there are at least 30 locations waiting to be published and I keep exploring…

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    No problem! I really enjoyed reading your blog and I look forward to more updates from you :D

  • http://www.meow.fr TigrouMeow

    Good SEO for haikyo but not for any of the locations I’ve been to, it seems :p Haha, and I just noticed that my article about Nara Dreamland has an issue (pictures are mostly gone), when you have time, check my pictures on meow.fr (you’ll find it very easily there). That’s a nice article you have here anyway, too bad there aren’t new spots like those, as they’re disappearing :(

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the link tofogu / Hashi!!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Thank you for the awesome site :D

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TB2IR53WKNBGQAR53BUXHJULNI ioukta

    I love those, i heard about them a couple years ago and wish if i ever travel to Japan I can go visit a place like that. it’s creepy and at the same time nostalgic. Thank you for the post

  • Pingback: Abandoned Amusement Parks | Kawaii Kakkoii Sugoi()

  • http://kennydude.me Joe Simpson

    Oh my! They are pretty spooky :|

  • No-da-ru

    God I love that movie!!!!

  • WNantier

    this is just awesome. that stuff looks so creepy!

  • Taya

    *doesn’t even realize that I’m listening to Silent Hill songs until I reach the bottom*
    Well, that’s not helping the creepiness!

  • Althaea

    You referred to the rusted-out roller coasters of the park above as “rabies hazards”.  I think you might have meant “tetanus hazards” as a person can get tetanus from being punctured by a rusty object (if they have not had a tetanus vaccination).

  • UglyGirlYouDontKnow

     Creepy .. xD

  • akissy

    Sen to Chihiro’s exactly why I looked up abandonded amusements parks. ^^

  • Kingama

    I don’t think callin’ the park “family rand” was a mistake it’s juste that there is no L in japanese it’s pronounced R even if technically it would sound like “famiry rand” = =

  • http://www.facebook.com/DanaWesselEdwards Dana Wessel Edwards

    I know this is well after the last post, but I have to add to the conversation… I worked at what used to be Geauga Lake during the 3 years it was owned by Six Flags (Six Flags Worlds of Adventure)… there was an amusement park on one side of the lake and animals on the other side. I don’t know if it was the downturn in the economy or what, but it didn’t last long and during my last summer there I worked on the “wild life” side in what little was left (a very tiny children’s section that wasn’t worth the long trek around the lake). It was really depressing walking through the formerly Sea World section of the park during my breaks… Any time I see pictures of abandoned parks it depresses me, just thinking about how great they must have been in the height of their popularity. Sea World Ohio was awesome, Geauga Lake was awesome, they made a great park when put together, but just couldn’t stand up to the failing economy. :(

  • HongVan

    Remind me about Silent Hill Revelation …I wonder is there any rusty evil clown face waiting silently in that park?

  • Williamgodwin

    @facebook-654807674:disqus yes i thought of spirited away because at the begining the talked about abandoned parks

  • http://twitter.com/OM617 Lance Newcomb

    How do you get rabies from an inanimate object?

  • Mick

    Me too! Romantic, sad, and awesome!

  • Shinigami

    This is the most terrible researched article I’ve red in a while. Not only is most of the information false, but also the first picture is from Pripyat, Chernobyl, not Japan. Do your research before posting crap.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1157262854 Kelley Gillespie

    was wondering the same…

  • Vicky

    These are fantastic! Can anyone visit them or are there fences and the possibility of being arrested for trespassing? ^^;

  • Florian / Abandoned Kansai

    Hey Vicky,
    It depends. Koga Family Land is mostly demolished and blocked off by a country club, so you might run into some golfers and employees that will tell you to leave. Nara Dreamland is still completely fenced off with barbed wire added once in a while – and the security guard there tries to blame illegal visitors for any vandalism done by local idiots (according to internet reports), so I’d be very, very careful when visiting that place!

  • fake please.

    have you ever been teleported in a forest at night? scary as shit!!!

  • Rory Triskaideka

    I was also confused and imagined perhaps there are wild rabies-infected creatures hanging out in the flora overgrowing these tall roller coasters.

  • Atatürk’ün Askeri

    спасибо, очень интересно и я очень люблю!