The Spirit of Dreamland

MJG Theme Parks, Zine 1 Comment

Several months ago now I was contacted by a reader of my haikyo book, Ruins of the Rising Sun (now retitled Japan in Ruins), who let me know that it, along with my website, had really meant a lot to her. Now, as a writer and photographer, that really meant a lot to me. Reaching out through words and photos …

Nara Dreamland Heyday

MJG Haikyo, Heyday, Nara, Theme Parks 9 Comments

Nara Dreamland, Japan, was Asia’s first Disneyland clone- opened in 1961 and continuing operation until as recently as 2006. Over that 45-year span millions of people were entranced by its mimicked delights- the Matterhorn mountain, the fairytale castle, Main Street, etc… Even now many thousands are still entranced by Dreamland abandoned, as its rides grow dusty and weeds shoot up …

Exploring Japan’s deserted Mount Rushmore

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Statues / Monuments, Theme Parks, Tochigi 5 Comments

Disneyland has the grand pink Sleeping Beauty castle. The wizarding world of Harry Potter has Hogwarts. Japan’s abandoned Western Village theme park has a 1/3rd scale replica of Mount Rushmore. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln- Japan Outside Mount Rushmore As grand-central-structures-that-pull-their-thematic-landscapes-together go, it’s an odd one. First off, you can hardly even see it from within the park. Instead it fronts …

History of the Western Village Amusement Park, Japan

MJG Haikyo, Theme Parks, Tochigi 0 Comments

Western Village is a quantum pocket of the Old West Disneyfied and transplanted wholesale from the American collective unconscious, replete with a $29 million replica Mount Rushmore, Western saloon, ghost house, jail, post office, shooting gallery, actual fake Rio Grande, and vast Mexican barrens. It was built in 1975 and shut down in 2007, likely due to its remote location …

Cowboy haunted-house and Mexicoland, Japan

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Theme Parks, Tochigi 18 Comments

Japan’s haikyo theme park Western Village (closed in 2007) takes its cowboy conceit in some unexpected directions; most interestingly of all the Wild West ghost house. Within its silent black-velveted walls we can find all manner of creepified Western stalwarts; skeletal pistoleers, death as a frontier dentist, zombified tomahawk-wielding Indians, and of course cowboys with their pants down. Hmm? Yes. …

Japan’s abandoned animatronic John Wayne

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, People / Culture, Theme Parks, Tochigi 10 Comments

Japan’s abandoned wild west theme park Western Village (closed in 2007) is filled to the tip of its ten-gallon hat with animatronic cowboy dolls. A Stagecoach-era John Wayne with cyborg heart exposed stands by the park entrance, silent now that the tourists have stopped coming. Animatronic John Wayne with hair peeling back to reveal flesh-toned speakers reprises his Stagecoach (1939) …

Western Village: Japan’s Abandoned Cowboy Theme Park

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Japan, Theme Parks, Tochigi 29 Comments

Western Village is a quantum pocket of the Old West Disneyfied and transplanted wholesale from the American collective unconscious, replete with a $29 million replica Mount Rushmore, Western saloon, ghost house, jail, post office, shooting gallery, actual fake Rio Grande, and vast Mexican barrens. It was built in 1975 and shut down in 2007, likely due to its remote location …

GUEST HAIKYO – Okinawa’s derelict Cactus Theme Park

MJG Featured Story, Guest Haikyo, Haikyo, Okinawa, Theme Parks 1 Comment

The impetus for starting a series of Guest Haikyo posts came from a fellow haikyoist’s web-hosting disaster. Paul’s site Misuterareta (abandoned) was recently lost in toto when his blogging platform ‘Vox’ went under. It seemed a real shame, and I suggested putting excerpts of some of his content up on my site. Happily he ran with the idea, while at …

Sports World Retrospective

MJG Featured Story, Haikyo, Izu, Theme Parks 27 Comments

Sports World was a large sports and water park in Shizuoka, Japan. It was opened in 1988, closed in 1996 after the company went bankrupt, lived on as a ‘haikyo’ or ruin for 14 years more years, then was demolished early in 2010. It was my favorite haikyo in Japan, so it’s sad to hear that. It was one of …

Nara Dreamland: Japan’s last abandoned theme park

MJG Haikyo, Nara, Theme Parks 115 Comments

Nara Dreamland is the epitome of many haikyo dreams; an abandoned theme park with all its roller-coasters and rides still standing. I’ve heard many stories of haikyoists arriving only to be either deterred by the cameras, sensors, alarms and fines, or actually physically expelled by the furious security guard. For my visit I decided to bypass those risks altogether, and …

Japan’s abandoned Jungle theme park #1 outside

MJG Haikyo, Izu, Shizuoka, Theme Parks 18 Comments

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 …

Japan’s dying Ceramic Land theme park

MJG Haikyo, Nagasaki, Theme Parks 26 Comments

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 …