Japan’s Jungle Park is an immense abandoned green house, an indoor botanical garden sheltering nearly 10,000 square meters worth of sweltering tropical habitat. It was built in 1969, and its peak of operation came in 1973 when it received 750,000 visitors per year. By 2003 over 10 million people had passed through its vast and humid acreage, but its facilities were showing their age and fewer and fewer people were coming each year. It was closed in the fall of 2003, and has lain fallow there like a giant white tent for the past seven years.
Jungle Park`s main entrance.
I`ve known about the Jungle Park for years, I saw it in several different haikyo books, but in those books it looked pretty feeble. I didn`t know the whole thing was indoors, or so massive, so I never made a big effort to find its location.
In the past week though the effort was made for me, as someone who had been there already got in contact and let me know where it was. This was fantastic. I had a free Sunday, so I got my haikyoing gear together and rolled out at 5am for the park. Some 4 hours later I was there, asking around the locals for which path I should take for Jungle Park.
“I know, but where is it?”
“You can`t go in.”
“Of course, but where is it?”
Once I knew the correct trail it was easy to find. The big white dome looks like the awning for a sports arena, and stretches on for quite a ways in a long corridor, before clumping into the big central square. Here`s some maps to make that clear:
It begins at the bottom left with the main entrance, follow the path along, and finish in the big green square.
If you can read Japanese then this is very informative.
And the actual view from above:
A long tail-like hall culminates in a grand jungle cathedral.
In this first part on Jungle Park we`ll take a look at the exterior and surrounding facilities, plus a few sneak peaks at the interior. I`ve just got too many photos (and too much video) to put them all in one post.
So, first off, I hit on the side of the dome, and saw the side entrance through a cool tunnel. Nearby there were some shattered green-houses, where I assume they prepped plants before moving them into the main park.
Jungle Park road blocks getting absorbed.
Huge flank #1.
Huge flank #2.
Inside the side tunnel
Inside to the potting tables.
A wild bright flower.
After that I followed the drive to the car park, and the main entrance, all the while getting increasingly awed by the mighty flanks of the park. It`s like an SF bio-dome. Peeking through the side I could get an idea of what awaited inside. At the end of he trail the car park was wide open, empty, and had a great view of Izu`s trademark mountains.
Drive from car park to main entrance.
Shuttered souvenir shops.
Empty car park.
Stop sign and ticket booth.
Main sign on the road, now painted over.
One of many little huts.
Peek through the glass wall.
Sigh, I love Izu. It`s my favorite part of Japan easily, it`s so beautiful and has so many great haikyo.
Actually I wanted to come to the Jungle Park by night and camp over inside, like I did the first time I went to Sports World. But the trains and buses weren`t so accomodating as for Sports World. I`ll say it`s probably better that way, since Jungle Park was so gosh-darned humid inside I don`t think I could have slept.
By the car park was a trail running off into natural jungle and up a slight hill. I followed this for a little while, crossing a few plank bridges to get to, uh, nowhere really. Standing on top of what looked a water tank or power hub, with no means of entry. It was fun to walk the planks though.
Of course then I went inside, but I`ll post that next week.
Finally, the video-
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]