Abandoned Theme Parks in Japan

Japan is chock full of bizarre abandoned theme parks, thanks to decades of exorbitant investment and a massive real-estate Bubble.

Theme parks make some of the best ruins / haikyo imaginable. Not only is every one weirdly unique in its own way, but you get to see everything hidden behind the veil; the secret tunnels the staff used, the machinery behind the scenes in the haunted house, the control rooms for the merry-go-round.

Western Village 1. History

Western Village 2. John Wayne

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. Japan’s abandoned wild west theme park Western Village 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.

Western Village 3. Haunted House

Western Village 4. Mt. Rushmore

Japan’s haikyo theme park Western Village 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. 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.

Nara Dreamland

Nara Dreamland Heyday

Nara Dreamland is the epitome of many haikyo dreams; an abandoned theme park with all its roller-coasters and rides still standing. Even now many thousands are still entranced by Dreamland abandoned, and a few have provided photos of this Disneyland homage in its heyday.

Jungle Park 1. Exterior

Jungle Park 2. Interior

Izu’s Jungle Park is an immense abandoned green house, an indoor botanical garden sheltering nearly 10,000 square meters worth of sweltering tropical habitat. Jungle Park was easily the biggest green-house I’ve ever been in, and boy was it hot inside. H-O-T. And very humid. Within minutes I was soaked to the skin, and any time I had to climb something I was panting with the exertion

Jungle Park 3. Gift Shop

Ceramic Land

Across the road from Jungle Park was this smashed-up restaurant/souvenir shop. I`ll guess it wasn`t actually connected to the theme park, though it probably survived on the tourists who came there. Ceramic Land is one of Japan`s grand failed theme parks, 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.

Gulliver’s Kingdom (RIP)

Namegawa Island Bird Park

Namegawa 7001

Gulliver once rested in the shadow of Mt.Fuji, bound and nailed to the ground by the hair. His giant body was the main attraction of the now defunct and dismembered Gulliver’s Kingdom Theme Park in Yamanashi, built in 1997, closed in 2001 due to defaulting bank loans, and demolished around 2007. Namegawa Island is a big failed bird theme park, one that up until fairly recently held its own against the twin Disneys standing astride the Chiba peninsula, past which any bird-aficionados would have to run the gauntlet to reach it.

Sports World 1. Hotel / Grounds

Sports World 2. Water Park

Sports World occupies an idyllic position at the crown of the Izu peninsula, overlooking a wide swathe of richly forested mountains and valleys. In its heyday it was a sports and relaxation haven, featuring tennis courts, miniature golf, a dive pool, restaurants, a hotel, a huge wave pool, a spa, and a gym. The Sports World Water Park in Izu is a well-hidden gem in the crown of Japan’s abandoned theme parks. Tucked away from the main theme park down a slim passage over-awed by rabid weeds, its brilliant blue umbilical water-slides snaking and inter-twining through the verdant green jungle canopy.

Sports World 3. Return in HDR

Sports World 4- Retrospective

Sports World is probably my favourite haikyo in Japan. In an upcoming top ten list of ruins in East Japan I’m putting together, it will more than likely be number 1. It’s just so awesome. It’s massive, 20 years abandoned but relatively intact, and set in a really beautiful forested mountain area. I heard recently that Sports World has been demolished; apparently there’s nothing left now but the car park and a few minor buildings.

Russian Village Theme Park

Kappa Pia Theme Park

The Russian Village Theme Park sprawls empty and forlorn atop a small hill set back from the main road, its giant fake mammoths resting unseen in their dark and musty show hall, and the vibrant blue onion-domes of its vaulting ‘Russian’ church slowly tarnishing to white. The Kappa Pia Theme Park was in the process of being demolished when I went to see it. The grand rusted rollercoasters, creaking tea-cup rides, teddy bear-winning sideshows and themed restaurants I’d hoped to see were all gone, leaving nothing but bare concrete platforms with rust-pocked rivet marks where rides had once been.

GUEST HAIKYO Cactus Park


From a ruins perspective Okinawa is not a goldmine of locations. The excess and extravagance of the construction from the bubble era looks like it never extended to Japan’s southern most prefecture.

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