Nara Dreamland and Abandoned Kansai are inseparable… A long time ago I brought you the first pictures (taken in 2009!) and now I publish the latest – none of the photos in the gallery below is older than 24 hours; some have been taken barely half a day ago, literally this morning, May 3rd!
My visits to *Nara Dreamland* have always been troublesome. I’ve been cut short by security twice and afterwards went to great lengths to avoid that damn guard(s). As much as I love the place, my visits there were never relaxed and barely ever a good experience. The same goes for the so-called *Golden Week*, an agglomeration of national holidays in Japan that causes the whole country to travel, which means that hotels, trains and tourist spots are crowded and overpriced as heck – which causes a lot of people to travel abroad, this year including my regular urbex buddies: honeymoon, vernissage, surprise marriage. Facing another disastrous week of binge-watching overrated TV shows or playing the Xth installment of a video game series I lost interest in half a decade ago, I decided to make the best of the situation. What better time of the year to mess with my biorhythm than the time of the year I actually have nothing better to do than to recover from a night and early morning stay at Nara Dreamland?
Last year it took me 10 days between exploring Nara Dreamland and publishing the photos here on Abandoned Kansai… 9.5 to be exact. On a regular weekend I would be able to reduce it to 2.5 days – but thanks to Golden Week I was actually able to lower that delay to half a day; which is as fast as I will ever get since I don’t take pictures with a smartphone… mainly because I don’t have one. 🙂
(Though I am sure you don’t really care how old the photos are. If I learned one thing over the last couple of years, then that Nara Dreamland pictures are always are crowd-pleaser – one I probably should have milked more often, as I still have whole sets of old unpublished NDL photos; not to mention the hundreds of photos of used sets I never published…)
My main goal for this visit was to duplicate some shots I took back in 2010 to illustrate the insane amount of vandalism Nara Dreamland has suffered from just within a few years – those I saved for a future article, but of course I took a lot more photos; some in areas I have missed during my first few visits.
If you follow the news closely, you might have heard that *Nara Dreamland* has been sold in November of 2015 to SK Housing, a real estate company based in Osaka. The previous owner owed the city of Nara something like 650 million Yen in property tax – and the only way to get the money was to foreclose the former theme park. After a failed public auction a year prior, SK Housing was the only bidder willing to pay the minimum amount of 730 million Yen, pretty much 6 million USD. This looks like a steal considering the property size of 297,000 square meters (3.2 million square feet!) and the fact that it comes with 75 buildings and other structures (that’s less than 20 EUR per sqm!), BUT the deal comes with some serious drawbacks. First of all: None of the buildings / structures are usable anymore – most of them are actually beyond repair. But even if you would level the whole park (which SK Housing has no plans for, according to a friend of mine who contacted them recently!) you’d have to invest several hundred million Yen more and then deal with nightmarish zoning regulations: new buildings are not allowed to be taller than 10 meters (the wooden rollercoaster Aska is 30 meter high!) and have to be used for libraries, museums, schools, sporting grounds, welfare facilities or a zoo – commercial, hotel, residential and retail developments are prohibited. So what is SK Housing going to do with their six million dollar investment? I have no idea…
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