During Japan’s real estate Bubble in the 1980’s, theme parks were the investment to make. They couldn’t fail. Sink millions into expensive construction, land, and man-power, and ride the surging economy to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All those decades of post-war militaristic industrialism had finally paid off, and people were finally taking more leisure time and traveling further afield to enjoy it- you couldn’t go wrong with a theme park.
Except of course, you could. The Bubble burst like an over-ripe peach and all the wacky ideas that before had seemed so bright- The Russian Village, Gulliver`s Kingdom, Sports World, now were black spots on the company ledger that had to be redacted from public view.
Glorious pylons in back echo the building`s form.
And redacted they were. They weren’t sold, they weren’t re-purposed, they were just left to fumigate on the sidelines of reality, far enough off the beaten path that even locals don`t really remember what they were supposed to be in the first place.
Ceramic Land is one such place, though one more resilient than its compadres. Located in a Kyushu town famous for its flowery gardens, it is still barely clinging to a tenuous thread of life. Nobody goes there anymore, there are not even any people in the ticket booths to collect fees, though hastily amended signs show prices have been dropping for years (from 3,000 yen entry down to just 200). In a few years the owner will give up on mowing its expensively manicured lawns, and the place will be left for the animals and vandals.
So new-looking, but only a single couple stroll the grounds.
Museum of fictitious historic things? My Latin’s not what it once was.
Comfortable seats for no-one to sit in.
I actually didn’t even go to this place, though I wish I had. It was Su Young who found it, completely by chance, when we went to Kyushu at the end of last year. She felt sick, so I left her to chill out at a comfortable-looking train station while I hurried off to explore the Kyu Nagasaki Shipyard.
She found this place advertised in old brochures in the train station. Upon asking local old folks pottering around the town they told her the place was shut down, though it turned out not wholly. She was able to walk the grounds in almost total solitude. We had been to France and seen the Louvre earlier that year, and it`s weird to imagine that space as empty as this was. Huge, and empty.
I actually saw the big blue central cupola over a rise fromthe train as I raced back to pick her up. Happily she felt better. So- all credit to SY for the photos and the find. Domo!
Central blue cupola.
Flanks, filled with, what? Nothing to compare to Michelangelo`s David or the Mona Lisa, I wager.
Serious carving going on here.
This place is actually quite similar to the very large Dutch themed park, also in Kyushu, called Huis Ten Bosch. It’s a huge flower garden filled with Dutch bits and pieces, including a full-size replica of the Huis Ten Bosch itself, some kind of Dutch royal palace.
Very impressive, but apparently it itself is also flagging, and possibly on the way out. There just isn`t enough draw to go there, to look at reproduction buildings and flowers.
Here`s the Huis Ten Bosch site, if you’re interested to learn more.
The inner courtyard.
Fountain still works, how bizarre.
The east wing.
Here’s your proof it’s in Japan.
Over the west wing.
The Dutch town square- all gift shops and cafes.
Theme parks are doubtless one of the most interesting ruins to explore. While this wasn’t wholly a ruin, I’m sure it will be soon enough. It’s worth keeping an eye on.
See a curation of world ruins in the ruins gallery.
See my collection of Japanese ruins (haikyo) in the galleries:[album id=4 template=compact]