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Archive for the ‘Nara’ Category

3000 Facebook fans! Wow… For many years I totally underestimated social media, so the *Abandoned Kansai FB page* went up 1.5 years after I started writing about deserted places in Japan and the rest of the world – and also long after I started writing about Abandoned Kansai’s most important location: Nara Dreamland. I went there as early as 2009 – not the first person after it was closed, but probably the first regular urban explorer to go there. In the past 5.5 years I wrote more than half a dozen articles about this amazing abandoned theme park and dug up all kinds of information, usually for the first time in English. In October of 2010 I wrote an article about the *Hotel and Administrative Building*… but I didn’t publish the video I shot there. It was taken in December of 2009, during my first visit, and I never intended to publish it – but what the heck, 3000 Facebook fans are a reason to dig deep and celebrate… Enjoy!

(For all your Nara Dreamland needs please have a look at the Nara Dreamland Special. *Like Abandoned Kansai on Facebook* if you don’t want to miss the latest articles and exclusive content – and subscribe to the *video channel on Youtube* to receive a message right after a new video is online…)

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Believe it or not, I am really not a fan of April Fools’ jokes – probably because I equally don’t like lying and being being lied to, which is really tough sometimes in a country that glorifies being a two-faced bastard with the term “honne and tatemae”. Nevertheless I couldn’t resist coming up with my own April Fools’ joke yesterday… 🙂

It all began in late 2013 when I was writing and scheduling the articles about my *second trip to North Korea*. I had to spread them out in a way so I would be able to publish the next regular urbex article on a Tuesday, because I pretty much always update Abandoned Kansai on Tuesdays – and that’s when I realized that April 1st would be on a Tuesday in 2014, too. At around the same time I found out that *Igosu 108* had been dismantled in autumn of 2013 and that it was shipped to Vietnam to be rebuilt there. But… what if it would have been *Nara Dreamland* instead of Vietnam? So I wrote the first draft of my April Fools’ joke story.
The piece was resting for months until coincidence helped me bringing it to a whole new level. Some weeks ago I found out that on January 31st the Nara Shimbun wrote a story about Nara Dreamland being foreclosed, because the current owner “Dreamland” owed the city 650 million Yen in taxes, that negotiations about tax reductions failed and that neighbors opposed the city’s idea to buy the property and build a crematorium. All of this is actually true – it’s just that Dreamland still owes the money as the auction hasn’t happened yet. So I updated the article by incorporating those new facts.
Since I tend to write or at least polish articles last minute, I went over it again just before I published it, adding some details you might have or have not found interesting. The company’s name for example, Nara Dreamland: The New, is a reference to “Biohazard: The Real” a.k.a. “Resident Evil: The Real” – a haunted house style attraction at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. Not only is it extremely bad use of English in both cases, but USJ is one of the reasons why Nara Dreamland had to close. The CEO’s name, Katsuhiro Yuenchi, is a combination of the real first name Katsuhiro and the Japanese term for amusement park, Yuenchi. Japanese business years indeed usually start on April 1st and most outdoor water parks here are in fact open for only two months, completely ignoring that it is hot enough to make money from at least June till late September. Of course I really asked Japanese friends to write letters to the owners of Nara Dreamland to get permission to take photos there, maybe even to interview somebody – still no answer though… Oh, and the article ends with a quote from Vanilla Sky, one of the few Hollywood remakes I liked better than the original.

As you can see, most of the article is true, and I guess that’s one of the reasons why so many people believed it. I am actually quite flattered by that fact, because it makes me believe that I enjoy quite a bit of credibility out there on the interwebz. And I hope I didn’t jeopardize it with my little joke. (I even waited till 10 p.m. Japanese time to publish yesterday’s the article, to make sure that it would be April 1st in most countries in the world – I could have posted it at 0.01 a.m. Japanese time, still March 31st in most Asian countries and in all of Europe, Africa and America…)
On the other hand I have to say that the April Fools’ joke about Nara Dreamland turned out to be one of the most read articles I have ever written – because people happily spread the word. *My posting on Facebook* was seen by three times as many people as I have subscribers there! Usually about 40% of my subscribers see my postings, which already is a lot more than the 6% Facebook average that we all read about in the media recently. 300% vs. 40% vs. 6% – so please keep Liking and Sharing stuff, if you think Abandoned Kansai is worth supporting! On Facebook and Twitter, by posting links on forums, in comment sections or by sending them to friends. I really appreciate it – and I really don’t like making up big stories to get attention…
By the way: April 1st will be a Tuesday again in 2025… so be careful when reading Abandoned Kansai in 11 years! 🙂

Oh, and since the sour was actually the April Fools’ joke, I’ll give you lots of sweet this week! The gallery below consists of previously unpublished photos I took at Nara Dreamland plus an exclusive one photo preview at tomorrow’s article about another abandoned Japanese amusement park you probably haven’t heard about yet!

(For all your Nara Dreamland needs please have a look at the *Nara Dreamland Special*. If you don’t want to miss the latest article you can *like Abandoned Kansai on Facebook* or subscribe to the *video channel on Youtube*…)

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Nara Dreamland soon to be reopened – all the details exclusively on Abandoned Kansai! (Unless you speak Japanese…)

For almost eight years people were wondering: Why do the owners of *Nara Dreamland* pay for a nasty security guard to keep intruders away? Some thought they had too much money while others claimed that they wanted to avoid vandalism, so they could rent out the place as a movie set – Japanese horror movies are famous all over the world, or at least they were for a while, before they were beaten by the descendants of their common Korean ancestors. For years I tried to get in contact with the owners (first Daiei, then a company called “Dreamland”, represented by “L.A. Investment” in Nara) to get official permission to shoot there, just to run into a wall of silence. On January 31st 2014 the Nara Shimbun reported that the city of Nara foreclosed Nara Dreamland and put it up to auction as Dreamland owed about 650 Million Yen (currently 4.6 million EUR or 6.3 million USD) in taxes; previous negotiations about tax reductions failed – and local residents opposed the city’s idea of buying the property to build a crematorium (no kidding!).

The new owner, a company called “Nara Dreamland: The New” (Japanese people and English, always good for a laugh!), went to work quickly. Not only did they finally answer  the letters I wrote months ago to their predecessors, they also invited me and a couple of well-known Japanese urban explorers over to Nara on Sunday, March 30th, as they appreciated “the support of our most devoted fans”, so CEO Katsuhiro Yuenchi. I went to Nara with a bilingual friend and the story embargo was just lifted seconds before this article went online… it will probably hit the mainstream news tomorrow. And news they had for us, unexpected big news! (In case you wonder about the timing: In Japan most companies start their business years on the first day of the second quarter.)

As you already know from the headline, Nara Dreamland is about to re-open soon! Renovations began right after the acquisition in January to make a ridiculously tight deadline: April 26th, just in time for Golden Week, one of the most important vacation periods in Japan. Mainstreet USA and the Cinderella Castle are already almost completely renovated, dozens of experienced woodworkers and technicians currently make sure that the Aska roller-coaster will be ready to go, while the park’s other famous ride, the Screw Coaster… is getting screwed. After almost a decade of negligence the coaster was so rusted and overgrown that new management decided to demolish and replace it. The merry-go-rounds and other small rides in the back of the park are under repair as we speak, so are the BBQ area and the monorail, for which brand-new trains will be imported from the States, hopefully arriving on time for the grand reopening. New attractions include a freefall tower and a Ferris wheel – although the latter one will actually be an old friend! A couple of months ago the giant wheel *Igosu 108* disappeared from Shiga prefecture *as I mentioned on Facebook a while ago*. Structurally sound and completely repainted it now makes Nara Dreamland visible from far away. At least one major attraction like that will be added every year, according to the new management of Nara Dreamland. Sadly they guys were also a bit stuck up and told us to leave our cameras behind in the bus before they gave us the grand tour. Well, most of the attractions and buildings were under construction and partly or completely scaffolded anyway, but I am sure official promo photos will be released soon.

To stick with the park’s tradition and to stand out from the competitors, the new Nara Dreamland will be a pay-as-you-go amusement park, which means that the entrance fee will be only 500 Yen (free during Golden Week 2014!) and that you’ll have to pay for every ride – between 200 and 800 Yen. Dreamland’s water park is currently fenced off and will open completely overhauled  from early July till late August / early September, like most other water parks in Japan, too.

Personally I am very excited about this news! I’ve been to Nara Dreamland at least once a year since 2009 and I am happy that I can finally enter for a small fee without sneaking around. Sure, it is a loss for the whole Japanese urbex community – but at the same time it is such a big win for Nara and all of Kansai! (Sorry, no “new” abandoned location today. Just remember: The sweet is never as sweet without the sour!)

(For all your Nara Dreamland needs please have a look at the *Nara Dreamland Special*. If you don’t want to miss the latest article you can *like Abandoned Kansai on Facebook* or subscribe to the *video channel on Youtube*…)

CNN Loved This Photo So Much, They Put It On Their Front Page (Archive Photo)

CNN Loved This Photo So Much, They Put It On Their Front Page (Archive Photo)

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Nara Dreamland (NDL) has been a constant companion ever since I picked up urbex as a hobby in late 2009. Exploring this gigantic and barely touched abandoned amusement park I had the best of times, I had the worst of times, I definitely started with no wisdom and was quite foolish when entering on a Saturday morning, because I didn’t belief in the security guard there as it was indeed the epoch of incredulity, later I saw Nara Dreamland in the season of light and in the season of darkness, though spring didn’t bring hope and there was as much despair in winter as there was ecstasy.
After I explored Nara Dreamland *overnight for seven hours* in early autumn of 2010 I decided that I would retire the place, never going back there again. Half a year prior to that visit I ran into a security guard on the premises, so I had to come back to settle the matter properly; but after my nighttime adventure, I had seen almost all of the park, so I didn’t feel I had to prove anything anymore – neither to myself nor to anybody else. Till this very day, three years later, I turn(ed) down every requests from friends and strangers to go to Nara Dreamland. Except for that one time…

Oliver from the UK dropped me a couple of lines with “a slightly unusual request” in mid-October of 2011, pretty much a year after what I thought was my final exploration of Nara Dreamland. He was about to get married in Osaka to his fellow Briton Ava and asked very politely if there was a way to include Nara Dreamland somehow. Since smuggling in a whole wedding party was way too risky, the three of us decided to go to the publicly accesible *Eastern Parking Lot* to take some wedding photos and then decide spontaneously what to do next. Of course things didn’t go as planned…

Oliver and Ava just finished changing into their amazing tweed kimonos (no kidding!) when we had an encounter with some locals and decided that we might be better off shooting inside NDL that day. Since climbing barb-wired fences is not a thing you want to do tweed-clad or wearing a kimono (let alone both!) my new friends had to change back, enter the park and put on their unique apparel again. While Ava and Oliver were dressing up in the abandoned Cinderella castle, I took the opportunity to take some daytime photos and videos of areas I actually missed the previous time – only to find out that the soon to be newlyweds realized in my absence that tweed kimonos are not exactly practical in case security shows up and we had to hop it. None of us was looking for trouble, so we decided to just take some light-hearted photos of the engaged couple in normal clothing. On the wooden Aska rollercoaster, the fake Mainstreet USA and some other places all over the park. What a fun and unique way to spend time at an abandoned amusement park!

In addition to some wonderful photos of Ava and Oliver I took tons of pictures of Nara Dreamland as well as half a dozen videos. In the future I will post an additional article or two based on this visit, but for now I hope you will enjoy this never before seen footage – and if you are reading Abandoned Kansai for less than two years I strongly recommend checking out the *Nara Dreamland Special* with links to all previous NDL articles, including some of the most interesting photos I have ever taken!

(If you don’t want to miss the latest article you can *like Abandoned Kansai on Facebook* or subscribe to the *video channel on Youtube*…)

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All of the photos I publish with articles on Abandoned Kansai are without any form of enhancing post-production – I don’t even crop them; they either look good or they don’t. Every once in a while I like to play with an HDR tool or two. I wouldn’t call those photos enhanced or improved, I would barely call them photos anymore. That’s why I created a sub-page for them in the background. Today I added ten more of those little artworks to that page. *Please click here to have a look!*

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Sometimes you just gotta be lucky. Like I was on February 11th 2011.
Living in central Kansai you kind of forget about winter. Temperatures drop to 5° Celsius and people complain about how cold it is. There are barely ever minus degrees. Sure, if you hop on a train and go to the nearby mountains you can enjoy some snow. But in the Osaka Plain? Not so much. In the first 4.5 years of me being in Japan it happened once that it snowed strong enough for the white beauty to accumulate on the ground – but that was long before I started urban exploration.
On February 10th I met with some current and former colleagues to have a couple of drinks as the next day was a national holiday – a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry. I remember mentioning how much I missed snow and that there hasn’t been some in three years. Well… When I woke up the next morning at around 9.30 a.m., slightly hung over, I opened the curtains so see… snow! Everywhere! And it was still coming down in beautiful large flakes. I slightly panicked as it was already quite late (for a haikyo trip). Where should I go to? A new place or revisiting one? And which one of them? Would there be snow, too? I always wanted to see *Mt. Atago* covered in snow, but in addition to the train ride I’d need to take a bus… and they were most likely cancelled. My mind spun for a couple of minutes before I came to the conclusion that there was only one place to go. A place I never wanted to go back to: Nara Dreamland!
So I took a quick shower, made sure that my equipment was ready and headed to the train station. 80 minutes later I was in Nara, pleased to see that the whole city was covered by a thick layer of snow, too. Reaching the Dreamland it was still snowing heavily and I went straight for the *Eastern Parking Lot* with the parking garage, the hotel and the iconic main entrance. The DreamStation in the background was definitely a welcomed bonus, but most important of all: You can enter without jumping fences or ignoring “No trespassing!” signs; you just have to know where – definitely a plus in case security shows up with the police… About half an hour later it stopped snowing and almost instantly I heard dripping water. Yes, even before the sky turned from dark grey to light grey the snow began melting! I sped up to take some more pictures of this oh so familiar place (noticing unpleasant changes like the ugly graffiti at the former pachinko parlor) and hurried over to the western parking lot, another one of my (rather risk-free) favorites. By the time I was actually ready to enter Nara Dreamland itself half of the snow was already gone. Happy with the pictures I already took and not willing to risk them I decided to call it a day and went back to JR Nara Station – where I found barely any proof that this was a very snowy day…
But I really was lucky that day. Lucky that it snowed. Lucky that it was a national holiday and I didn’t have to work. Lucky that I didn’t oversleep completely. Lucky that I decided to go to Nara Dreamland. While a Japanese blog was quicker than I taking and posting night shots of Nara Dreamland I’m happy to present the first snow photos of Nara Dreamland, although it took me almost a year to post them. Please enjoy and tell your friends!
(For all your Nara Dreamland needs please have a look at the Nara Dreamland Special. For a look at the area around Nara Dreamland on GoogleMaps, including some fancy icons linking to articles on Abandoned Kansai and videos on YouTube, please *click here*. If you don’t want to miss the latest postings you can *follow Abandoned Kansai on Twitter* and *like this blog on Facebook* – and of course there is the*video channel on Youtube*… Oh, and don’t worry: Nara Dreamland is neither Japan’s last abandoned theme park nor is it in immediate danger of being demolished. NDL will make many more appearances on this blog, most likely all of them with unique videos…)

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Haikyo HDR photos or not… that was a big questions two years ago.
From the start I wanted to keep Abandoned Kansai simple. A blog instead of a homepage, photos directly out of the camera instead of massive post production – resize to 1024*680, URL in the lower right corner. That’s it. No cropping, not filters, no nothing. I actually shoot in JPG, for almost two years not even in the highest resolution. All the photos published on Abandoned Kansai are done that way. After some positive comments I started to take a few photos in NEF, just in case; maybe 2 or 3%, not one of them I ever opened. When I got a tripod, I started to use the bracket function of my D90 at maybe every fifth location – again just in case. After a while I played around with a freeware HDR program, just for fun. While I like the aesthetics of tone-mapped HDR photos I still consider them mostly a gimmick. Nevertheless I decided to publish some of my experiments – below are two samples, *for more haikyo HDR photos please click here*.
(Updates will be announced on *Twitter* and *Facebook*, not on the main page.)

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# What is Nara Dreamland?
– Nara Dreamland is an abandoned amusement park in Nara, Japan. It was closed in 2006 and abandoned without getting demolished – which makes it quite a unique urbex location since all the roller coasters, merry-go-rounds, souvenir shops, arcades and other attractions are still there. (Although it’s up for discussion if the place is really abandoned. It’s closed, that’s for sure, but the owner of the park obviously still cares about it to some degree…)

# Where is Nara Dreamland?
– That’s the kind of questions I usually don’t answer. But since NDL has entries in four language versions of Wikipedia, three of them giving away the exact location of Nara Dreamland, I can as well link to *my own map at GoogleMaps*. The address was / is:
Nara Dreamland
1900 Horen-cho
630-8113 Nara
But just because you know where it is I wouldn’t recommend going there. You might wanna read the next question(s) before rushing out…

# Does Nara Dreamland have security?
– YES! Some people got lucky and didn’t run into security at Nara Dreamland, I got away with plugged feathers – others got roasted and served to the police. The whole park is surrounded by fences, most parts with spikes and / or barbed wire. Warning signs once asked people to call the police if they see somebody suspicious, now the latest signs I saw announced a fine of 100.000 Yen, about 950 Euros / 1300 Dollars! Furthermore there were reports that the guy patrolling there tries to blame caught trespassers for vandalism to get more money out of them. And vandalism becomes more and more of a problem…

# Is there any vandalism at Nara Dreamland?
– Sadly yes. Lots of it. When I explored Nara Dreamland for the first time in December of 2009 there were barely any signs of vandalism. Almost two years later there are graffiti at the former pachinko parlor at the Eastern Parking Lot. The Parking Garage’s staircase is completely sealed now and the Hotel is boarded up again. Inside the park you can see how people smashed the control station of a merry-go-round – the fire extinguisher still on top of broken glass. The Main Street USA clone with all the souvenir shops has barely any undamaged windows and several doors were kicked in, even of buildings that were clearly just a false front. It’s actually pretty sad how fast the place goes down the drain – especially since the graffiti people took over; and not the good ones…

# I’ve heard Nara Dreamland is a rip-off of Disneyland in Anaheim. Is that true?
– Definitely. Disneyland was opened in 1955, Nara Dreamland followed in 1961. You have copies of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, Adventureland, Main Street USA, Autopia, Skyway, Tea Party Cup Ride, Submarine Voyage, Flying Saucers, the monorail, the fire station, a pirate ship, double decker omnibusses, vintage cars, and a train station (called DreamStation). Even the entrance looked the same! Of course the layout of the park was very similar – aerial shots make them look like twins. And of course there is the story of Kunizo Matsuo, the man behind Nara Dreamland.

# Can you tell me more about the history of Nara Dreamland?
– Sure. After World War II Japan’s industry was booming. People worked hard and needed some places to relax. The United States were not only occupiers, but also the helping hands for the reconstruction of the country – and the new role models. In the second half of the 1950s a Japanese businessman called Kunizu Matsuo, president of the Matsuo Entertainment Company, visited the States and the brand-new amusement park Disneyland in Anaheim near Los Angeles – and was quite impressed. Something like that would be perfect for Japan, he decided. He became a mediator for the Japanese Dream Sightseeing Company (JDSC) and had direct contact with Walt Disney. The plan was to bring Disneyland to Japan – not to Tokyo, but to the old capital Nara (710 – 794), the cradle of Japanese culture. Matsuo also was in direct contact with Disney’s engineers to create the Japanese version of Disneyland. But Nara Disneyland never came true. Towards the end of the construction phase JDSC and Disney couldn’t agree on license fees for all the famous Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck and Goofy – so the Japanese side created their own mascots and abandoned the idea of Nara Disneyland. I have no idea how JDSC and Disney settled in the end (I’m sure JDSC had to pay quite a bit of money for Disney’s “help” even without getting the permission to use Cinderella & Co.), but while Nara Dreamland opened in 1961 it took Disney another 20 years to finally open Tokyo Disneyland on April 15th of 1983. Coincidentally (?) this year marked the beginning of the downfall for Nara Dreamland – the number of visitors began to decrease and JDSC including Nara Dreamland was bought by the supermarket chain Daiei in 1993. Eight years later, in 2001, Universal Studios Japan (USJ) opened in Osaka, just about 40 kilometers away. USJ annihilated Nara Dreamland and the once so glamorous place was forced to shut its doors on August 31st of 2006.

# What were the names of the mascots at Nara Dreamland? And are there famous non-Disney characters present at Nara Dreamland?
I’m sorry, but I have no idea about the mascots. All I know is that there are two of them, a male one and a female one. I don’t even know if they had names…
As for other characters: There are no specially themed rides, but Anpanman is pretty visible at Nara Dreamland. (In case you don’t know Anpanman: He’s the most popular fictional character amongst Japanese age 0 – 12 for 10 consecutive years. Anpanman was created by Takashi Yanase in 1968 as a manga character, but spread to other media quickly (including movies, animated shorts, a TV show and dozens of video games). Nowadays Anpanman is everywhere – imagine Hello Kitty, but popular with girls and boys…)

# Why was Nara Dreamland closed?
– A declining amount of visitors for many, many years – and most of all Universal Studios Japan. By the time USJ opened in 2001 Nara Dreamland already was a rundown theme park decades after its prime. Universal Studios Japan on the other hand was brand-new and high-tech, probably the most modern amusement park of its time. Tokyo Disneyland started the struggle (yes, even though 400km away TDL was direct competition for NDL!) and Universal Studios knocked it down – Nara Dreamland didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell… (Surprisingly enough *Expoland* in Osaka wasn’t affected that much by USJ and closed mainly because of bad press after a 19 year old university student from Shiga prefecture died on a roller coaster in 2007 – and Hirakata Park (also known as HiraPa – ひらかたパーク / ひらパー) between Osaka and Kyoto still doesn’t show any signs of giving up…)
At the height of its success Nara Dreamland welcomed 1.6 million visitors per year, when it closed the number was as low as 400k. Universal Studios Japan on the other hand had 11 million visitors (!) in its first year of operation…

# What was Nara Dreamland’s main attraction?
– Nara Dreamland’s main attraction was (and still is!) the Aska roller coaster (木製コースターASKA, Mokusei kōsutā ASKA), a wooden coaster built by Intamin and opened in 1998. The track was 1081 meters long and reached a height of 30 meters. The trains consisted of seven waggons for four guests each (two rows with two seats). They reached a speed of 80 km/h (almost 50 mp/h) and accelerated with up to 2.8g. Aska is named after Asuka, a city close to Nara – from 538 to 710 it was the capital of Yamato, one of the earliest states on Japanese ground, and the location of many imperial palaces as well as important temples and shrines, some of them still in existence today.
I took a video walking along parts of the abandoned Aska roller coaster – you can check it out on *Youtube*.

# Was it expensive to visit Nara Dreamland?
– The signs at the abandoned Nara Dreamland indicate that it was a pay-as-you-go amusement park (as was Disneyland when it opened in 1955!) – which means that you had to pay a low entrance fee, but then additionally for every single ride. So basically it was up to you how much you spent there. Sadly I never paid much attention to the prices, so let me have a look at some photos and see what I can come up with… Parking was 200 Yen for bikes, 1.200 Yen for cars and 2.000 Yen for busses. Bobsleigh (ボブスレー), the steel roller coaster modeled after Disney’s Matterhorn Bobsleds, was 600 Yen and a haunted witch cave put a hole of 300 Yen in your pocket. As for food: A beer was 500 Yen, chuhai was 400 Yen, takoyaki were 300 Yen, yakisoba was 400 Yen and the Family BBQ Set was 3.200 Yen. I don’t know how much the entrance fee was, but if you get caught by security now it costs you a whopping 100.000 Yen!

# I’ve heard there is a Yokohama Dreamland. Is it related?
– Well, there was a Yokohama Dreamland – it operated from October 1st 1964 to February 17th 2002 and closed, not really surprisingly, because of financial issues. It was located in the Totsuka ward of Yokohama. Unlike Nara Dreamland it was completely demolished – and replaced by a prison. And to finally answer the question: Yes, it was the sister park of Nara Dreamland with a similar layout, similar attractions and the same branding.

# Is there an official homepage?
– There was: http://www.nara-dreamland.co.jp/ (I didn’t make it clickable as it doesn’t work anymore anyways – save your time…)
You can find a copy *here*. (2003, Japanese only)

# How often have you been to Nara Dreamland?
– Never when it was still open and 5 times since it was closed.

# Do you have any plans to go back?
– Concrete, solid plans? No. Security there is the main reason for me not to go anymore. I know people visited the place without getting caught, but I made my own experiences and they were not all pleasant…

# Have you written more articles about Nara Dreamland than the one I’ve just read?
– Well, I summed up my experiences in the *Nara Dreamland Special*, but the articles I wrote about Nara Dreamland are in chronological order:
Getting Caught By Security
Nara Dreamland
Eastern Parking Lot And Parking Garage
Nara Dreamland Hotel
Nara Dreamland Revisited – Nighttime
Nara Dreamland Revisited – Daytime
Nara Dreamland – Nara Snowland
Nara Dreamland – Third Time Lucky
Nara Dreamland 2015
Nara Dreamland 2016
Nara Dreamland – 10th Anniversary
Nara Dreamland – Demolition

If you are less into facts about Nara Dreamland and you rather want to more about what it’s like to explore this abandoned theme park I recommend reading the articles I’ve just mentioned.

# Do you have material for more articles about Nara Dreamland?
– Yes! As of August 2014 I have material for about half a dozen articles, including some very unique photos…

# Is there a place even creepier than Nara Dreamland?
– Yes! It’s a half-abandoned amusement park called *People’s Park* – thanks to the constant music in the background and its nude statues it’s creepy as heck!

# What about that killer robot called Mascot 6-22? Is it really roaming Nara Dreamland?
– Killer robots at Nara Dreamland?! No, this is not another *April Fool’s joke*, this is the internet!
Nara Dreamland has been kind of my backyard for the past five years and I thought I’ve heard pretty much all stories about it… until one of Abandoned Kansai’s regular readers, Justin, asked me about the fully animatronic Mascot 6-22 in a private message via *Facebook* – and I had no idea what he was talking about. I did some research and there seems to be a theory out there in the depth of the internet, that Disney created Nara Dreamland to find out whether the fake park would be popular enough to justify the construction of an official Disneyland; which happened more than 20 years later. As if that wouldn’t be ridiculous enough, somebody claimed that the official new mascots were not poor students in poorly tailored costumes, but in fact robots – and that series 6, unit 22 was so special, that they didn’t turn it off, but let it roam freely in the park after it closed in 2006, defending a solar power station and giving everybody who tries to deactivate him an electric shock. But that’s not all! Some people actually seem to believe that the Japanese military asked Disney if they should take out “Mascot 6-22”, but they declined as the thing was showing interesting program adaptations.
Seriously, what the heck? The whole story is so ridiculous I won’t even spend the time to point out all the things that are wrong with it! Yes, I know, both the origin and the end of Nara Dreamland are somewhat in the dark, but come on, people… that’s a bit much, don’t ya think?

# I’ve heard that Nara Dreamland has been sold in late 2015. Is that true?
– Yes, that’s true. It seems like the previous owner owed the city of Nara 650 million Yen in ground tax, so the city foreclosed Dreamland and sold it to the only bidder for 730 million Yen – a real estate company called SK Housing. What plans they have is unclear though, because there are strict limitations on how the land Nara Dreamland is on can be used in the future…

# What are those strange noises I can hear at Nara Dreamland?
– If the noises are not coming from one of the nearby sports arenas, they are most likely caused by ushigaeru (ウシガエル) a.k.a. American bullfrogs. They freaked me out the first time I heard them in 2010, because they sounded like somebody opening a heavy metal door / gate…

If you have any unanswered questions about Nara Dreamland please let me know – I might update this posting every once in while. A lot of the information given here was only available in Japanese so far, some stuff I came up with by actually going to NDL – so if you use material for your own articles please be so kind and mention / link to this FAQ. Thanks a lot!

All of the following photos were taken in 2009 and 2010, most of them previously unpublished. The photos I took later will be published in two separate articles at some point in the future.
(If you don’t want to miss the latest article you can *like Abandoned Kansai on Facebook* and *follow this blog on Twitter* – and of course there is the *video channel on Youtube*…)

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Today I had a look at some rather old videos shot at locations I already wrote articles about. None of them were intended to be published, so the camera work might be a bit rushed occasionally, but I decided to upload them anyways as I think there might be some interest in them out there in the world wide web. While some of my videos only get a couple of dozen views quite a few of them were watched by thousands of people – *this one* will actually reach 30.000 views soon. Please enjoy!
*Nara Dreamland – Aska Rollercoaster*

*Koga Family Land*

*Jumbo Club Awaji Island*

*Ohmi Lodge*

*Young People’s Plaza & Museum*

*Takada Ranch Ruin*

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After spending a whole night at Nara Dreamland it dawned at around 5.30am, so Mike and I went straight to the entrance area near the Dreamstation to begin our second round through the park. The atmosphere at Dreamland early in the morning is almost creepier than it is at night. The light was kind of blue-ish, the sky slowly turned to overcast and we could finally have a closer look at the state of this huge abandoned amusement park – it looks horrible! The main street is so fake it would make an Ed Wood movie look cheap(er) and the amount of vandalism and decay is almost shocking considering the place was closed down for good only four years ago. If you want to see pictures of an undamaged Dreamland you’ll have to find some that are at least one or two years old. Pretty much all the windows in the park are smashed in, most of them just for the sake of destroying them – and that’s why places like Doggy Land or the Doctor’s Shack don’t get published with their real names or hints on how to find them… Too late for Dreamland though, the damage is done and I think it will get worse every month. And I totally understand now why the security guard was quite aggressive when he caught me taking pictures in February since it’s impossible to know who’s a vandal and who’s a harmless urban explorer. It would seriously piss me off and I guess even scare me when I’d come to work in the morning only to see doors and windows smashed in!
Mike and I, of course, just minded our own business and took a few pictures here and there – but to be fully honest, I was a little bit disappointed. Maybe it was because at that point we already spent four and a half hours there and of course we were tired and worried that security will show up at any minute, but Nara Dreamland (at daylight) is just a miserable place to be. It’s widespread, it’s run-down, it’s ugly and it’s full of weird items. Like the statue of Abraham Lincoln in front of the castle, that doesn’t make sense at all. (Maybe it does – if you know an explanation please drop me a line!) The really shocking part about it is that the place most likely felt weird even when it was still open. I can see the Aska rollercoaster being fun, maybe the water park with the pools and slides, too. But the rest looks like a real embarrassment for everybody involved. Again, love and hate at the same time: It’s a huge amusement park with all the attractions still standing – but at the same time it feels like one of the cheap weird reality shows on TV you don’t really want to watch, but you do it anyways and feel a bit guilty for doing so. So I guess it was no surprise that Mike left after about an hour to wait for me outside and I followed maybe ten minutes later. For some reason the daytime version of Nara Dreamland wasn’t nearly as captivating as I hoped it would be – I defeated my haikyo nemesis, but it was a bitter-sweet victory to find out that “the enemy” didn’t live up to the expectations…
Overall my (most likely) last visit to Nara Dreamland was an ambiguous experience. It was great to hang out with Mike and being at an abandoned amusement park at night is an awesome experience – it just wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as my explorations of other places like the Taga Mine, the Takada Ranch Ruin or the mostly demolished Expoland.
And don’t even get me started on the Zone of Alienation, including Chernobyl and Pripyat! Oh… well… now that I think about it: Maybe it’s time to write up a couple of stories about radioactivity, gas masks and some of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to!
(For all your Nara Dreamland needs please have a look at the Nara Dreamland Special. For a look at the area around Nara Dreamland on GoogleMaps, including some fancy icons linking to articles on Abandoned Kansai and videos on YouTube, please *click here*. And since this article is quite popular: You can *follow Abandoned Kansai on Twitter* and *like this blog on Facebook* – and of course there is the *video channel on Youtube*…)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWIeBW2SYBg

 

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