With a name like "The Site Of Reversible Destiny" you know that it has to be good… or at the very least, weird. My buddy Hiroyuki knew about my love for the absurd and guided me to Yoro Park, an "experience park" opened in 1995. The theme of the park is to "encountering the unexpected," and I gotta say, they did a pretty good job. Pretty much everything about it was a pleasant / mildly hazardous surprise.
Let's Make Things A Little Dangerous
So, I know this whole park was designed by artists (Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins), which is going to make it all awesome and artistic, but as I walked through the Site Of Reversible Destiny, all I could think was… "did someone just want to make a dangerous park for children to play in?"
At the entrance and office, they offer you a helmet. That ought to say something about this place right there. But beyond that, it's full of steep hills, high places, pitch dark rooms, creepy clown music, and pretty deep holes with trees in them (and guard rails only part way around).
Not shown: The seven children stuck at the bottom of the hole.
But, I imagine the danger was all part of the experience. What fun is an experience park if you don't get to experience experiences? Half the fun is climbing up things and feeling your way through pitch black rooms. The danger was fun, but that's only part of the picture. There's the art side as well.
The best way to describe things, I think, would be to go through a place at a time. I didn't take pictures of all the locations, but I'll write here about the ones I did do. For a list of all the locations, you can check them out on the Yoro Park website.
Insect Mountain Range
The Insect Mountain Range is a tall pile of rocks that sit right in front of you as you come out of the entrance building. According to the Yoro Park website, it was "carefully constructed in accordance with Arakawa's detailed direction." He wanted to show us that humans don't have to be subjugated to the natural world. We can, in fact, create "alternative nature" instead.
Oh, and why is this location called the "Insect Mountain Range"? Apparently it's because of the way people clamber up the rocks like insects in search of water (pictured above).
The best part of the Insect Mountain Range, however, is that you get a nice view of everything else. I didn't take a picture of it (you can see it in the video, though), but it's fairly high up, at least when it comes to a pile of rocks. Right in front of it was the Critical Resemblance House, which we'll look at next.
Critical Resemblance House
k The Critical Resemblance House is part house, part maze. The roof is made up of Gifu Prefecture (that's the prefecture Yoro Park is in) and scattered about are pieces of household furniture. You can see it in the video, but there are things like desks, ovens, refridgerators, toilets, beds, and so on just jutting out of walls and sticking out of the ceiling. It was definitely pretty weird, and fun to work our way through.
The Exactitude Ridge consists of multiple parts, actually. There's a bridge-like thing sticking out of the ground that just stops and goes nowhere (see, you're not alone Sarah!), but then there's also a small structure that is a reproduction of part of the Critical Resemblance House.
If you make your way inside (you have to crawl), there are holes in the wall (some require a ladder) that give different perspectives of the surrounding landscape. It's funny how a shape can change your view on things.
Although this seems like a small thing, I think these little holes were probably one of my favorite parts. I really like things that make you look at things in a different way than you're used to. It's refreshing to get a different perspective on life (and/or the surrounding landscape, at the very least).
The Great Golf Course Wall Of China
Dominating approximately half of the park was this giant wall that looked like the Great Wall Of China and a golf course had a baby. After leaving the Exactitude Ridge, you're given the opportunity to scale the wall, all the way to the end.
The wind was strong that day, and the sides didn't feel all that high… but I guess if they were it wouldn't be much of an experience (you wouldn't be able to see too well, and you wouldn't get as much excitement out of it).
The walkway comfortably fits one person, and uncomfortably fits two (for the couple times we had to squeeze past other people… of course the only time we ran into someone else was on the wall… twice).
You're able to walk all the way to the end of the wall, where there's an area to look around and see your surroundings. We could even see Nagoya Station (or, the two big towers, at least), though it was quite far away.
From the wall, though, you can really see the inner area of the park. Inside the park is actually a bunch of hidden Japans… inside Japans… inside Japan. This is the kind of thing dreams inside dreams are made of.
The Geographical Ghost, apparently, has a counterpart known as the "Cleaving Hall" which is apparently even more pitch black. I thought this one was dark, but it seems the other is darker.
Anyways, to get in here you go through a bright yellow entrance that leads into the ground. Soon it becomes dark, and you have to feel your way around dead ends and through skinny passage ways. Eventually, you get to the end: A skylight of Japan. Definitely pretty cool and better in person.
Sadly, though, I didn't see the "Cleaving Hall." That sounds like it would have been a lot of fun too.
The Destiny House, I'd say, is less like a house than any of the other places claiming to be a house. It's on top of a giant map of Japan (in the middle, apparently). It's supposed to represent ruins of an ancient building. Under the glass (you can kind of see it in the picture) is furniture… once again in a totally useless place. If there's one recurring theme that Yoro Park keeps bringing up, it's definitely "useless furniture placement."
The Kinesthetic Pass (see the poorly placed furniture in the middle, farther back?) resides in the area of the big map that represents Kyuushuu (the most Southwest of the four main islands of Japan). Although the furniture in this area is more useable (mostly because they're not halfway through a wall or ceiling), everything is on a big incline meaning it's terribly difficult to stand up once you've sit down. Everything definitely feels a bit "off" when you're here because of all the angles. It's quite fun.
The Other Parts That Will Reverse Your Destiny
Like I mentioned before, there are other interesting things in Yoro Park just waiting to be discovered and experienced. It's one of those places where if you come here two or even three times, you'll still find something new and interesting.
There are also plenty of places in the video (top of the page) that show up that don't show up in this article. There are also places that don't show up in either (like the "Cleaving Hall," "The Gate Of Non-Dying," and the "Trajectory Membrane Gate." All of them obviously have awesome names, so if you're the type of person that judges an experience by its name, you should definitely go to Yoro Park someday.
Getting To Yoro Park
The name of Yoro Park in Japanese is 養老天命反転地 (ようろうてんめいはんてんち) … quite a mouthful, but useful if you're looking for directions on how to get there. Most likely (I'm assuming) you'll be coming from Nagoya-Eki. From here it'll probably take you about an hour and a half (by train) plus maybe a little bit more if you take your time walking. You'll want to stop at Yoro-eki. There's gourds everywhere, you can't miss it.
Gourds must seriously be a thing here, though. There's even a welcome sign written in Gourds… Someone ought to make a Gourd Font.
Anyways, thanks for watching! I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'm putting more time in my routine to work on these, so hopefully much less of a wait for the next one.
See you next time!
By far one of the coolest parks I’ve been to. More parks should be designed so well that they are required to offer you helmets when you enter.