After a long day of exploring, my buddy Dan and I wanted to spend a few relaxing minutes on a shore enjoying the sunset before heading back to Osaka, when we came across the abandoned Japanese Flower Park – and grabbed our cameras one more time…
I actually don’t remember what was drawing us to this location, as neither Dan nor I had heard about it before. I guess it was just coincidence, like it’s the case with most original finds. While driving around we saw a huge empty parking lot and decided to check it out. It was already late in the day, so empty parking lots were nothing unusual, but I somehow had a hunch that there was something special about this one.
Pretty much from the parked car we saw a wooden pay booth in really good condition, a big greenhouse towering in the background. The combination of both gave us a general idea about the purpose of the place, but was it closed for the day or closed for good?
Well, it quickly turned out that it was closed for good. While all buildings were in really good condition, the park itself suffered quite a bit of damage. There were basically two areas – indoors (greenhouses) and outdoors (the park). The flower park was about 50 meter by 50 meters big and consisted of a (once) beautiful garden with several wooden rest areas. The lack of maintenance and regular typhoons though did quite some damage to the outdoor area. The greenhouses on the other hand were spared, much to my surprise. Not only were they spared, they were also locked, like the pay booth at the entrance. Except for one door of the main greenhouse, as Dan told me when I was about to wrap taking photos of the park.
Despite being just early summer with still moderate temperatures outside, the greenhouse was blazing hot. I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, but I started dripping almost instantly. Turns out that the greenhouse was not only another flower exhibition area for the more delicate genera, but it was also host to a snack shop – still stocked with Tetra Paks full of soft serve ice cream mix; I’m sure that stuff was an easy sell back in the days… Heck, I guess it wasn’t a surprise that most plants inside the greenhouse were dead as a dodo. And I was so happy when I finally got out of the main greenhouse!
Based on some pamphlets I found there and a little internet research afterwards, I was able to reconstruct at least a little bit of the place’s history. The Japanese Flower Park obviously had a different name, but it was opened halfway through 2006 with the goal to attract between 200.000 and 400.000 tourists per year. When only 30.000 showed up in 2007, the park sadly was closed just a year later after being in business for less than 2.5 years – which isn’t really a surprise considering the steep admission charge of 1500 Yen for adults and 700 Yen for kids!
You should think that an abandoned flower park must be extremely boring to explore, but like the abandoned cactus paradise *Himeyuri Park* in Okinawa it was everything but. It was actually one of the most pleasant explorations I ever did, just for the facts that I could just walk in without jumping fences and then was surrounded by plants – some beautiful, some not, but all of them were interesting to look at. More than an hour later I left with a heavy heart, hoping to come back one day…
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