Themed parks were one of the outdoor entertainment trends of the 1980s / 1990s in Japan. “They are called theme parks!”, you might say now, but don’ you worry, I know what I am writing about – I really mean “themed parks”. So, what’s the difference? Well, theme parks are those big amusement parks with tons of high tech rides, loosely connected by a common theme – like Disney, Universal Studios or roller coasters. Themed parks on the other hand are focusing on a certain topic, not so much on the rides, which usually are rather low tech – they consist of huge scenic parks with picnic areas, bike rentals, small attractions like merry-go-rounds, go-kart tracks and slides as well as tons of informational / educational facilities like museums, exhibitions, artisan stations and the sale of products made on location, like butter or bread.
Sadly there is little to nothing known about the Japanese Agriculture Museum – except for that one tag line above the real name on a now mostly overgrown sign next to the cheesy looking entrance; darn, I have seen fake playground castles that looked better than that on public ground back home in Germany! The park is surprisingly little covered by Japanese explorers, probably because overall it’s not very spectacular; especially the shots taken from outside or near the entrance, dating back as far as 2007 on blogs with miscellaneous content. Next to the cheap looking entrance with an even cheaper looker ticket booth (700 Yen for adults, 400 for children; opening hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Mondays, rainy days and from November till April) *Mike* and I found a green house… and further down the path were the rather well-known bird peddle boats you can even see on GoogleMaps; white swans, black swans and pink flamingos in rather faded colors. Huge, strong spider webs with arachnids as big as the palm of your hands slowed down our progress even in this early stage and our general disappointment didn’t disappear when we realize that there was a huge stretch of land past the peddle boats with nothing on it – the park had been demolished, probably years prior to our visit, that’s why those other blogs only showed the entrance, the greenhouse and the swans. Or so we thought. Nevertheless I insisted to go further, deeper into the park… and after a couple of minutes we found more. A small river with a now rotten wooden bridge to the left, a grove of fruit trees with ladder looking wooden contraptions to the right – and in front of us? The remains of the Garden Restaurant, a decaying eatery more tent than actual building, the brick print wallpaper peeling off. Not that bad after all, though the spiders and their webs everywhere kept making moving around a bit tricky. Upon entering the restaurant I had to remove a spider web as it was covering most of the door frame, but I made sure our mosquito catching friend left alive – only to find the same frame mostly covered again when coming back an hour later to shoot the video walkthrough. In case you wonder why I didn’t fully enter the room: blocked again by the same friggin spider! Behind the Garden Restaurant we found the usual array of minor attractions you’d expect to find at a themed park, some kind of trampoline and a slide on a slope, both overgrown now.
Overall the Japanese Agriculture Museum wasn’t a great exploration, but a nice way to spend a couple of hours outside on a sunny morning. I wish there would have been more left to see and to take photos of, but sometimes you gotta roll with the punches and play the cards that you are dealt. No regrets – though exploring similar themed parks like the *Tenkaen* and the *Shikoku New Zealand Village* was a lot more fun!
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