Japan has a word for ruins: haikyo. And some of the creepiest haikyo of the country are its abandoned amusement parks. Places where people used to gather to have fun are now sitting idle, slowly becoming overrun by nature. 

Each of these abandoned theme parks is weirdly unique. From the secret tunnels used by the staff to the control rooms for the merry-go-round, they let you see everything behind the veil. In this blog post, I share Japan’s top abandoned theme parks and how you can visit them. (Actually—is it even allowed to visit them? Keep reading to find out!)

If you think Nara Dreamland is going to be on our list of abandoned theme parks in Japan—it’s not. Unfortunately, this clone of Disneyland (even the maps are similar!) was demolished in 2016.

Western Village

Western Village abandoned theme park, Tochigi, Japan
Western Village, Tochigi, by Jordy Meow, CC BY 3.0 DEED

Step back into the Wild West at this former park, located 2.5 hours from Tokyo. The park was built in 1975 as a place where people could enjoy cowboy-like activities. It features a Western saloon, jail, ghost house, shooting gallery, post office, actual fake Rio Grande, and vast Mexican barrens. 

However, the cowboy-themed park closed down in 2007 for supposed maintenance works—and never reopened after that. It is believed that its remote location could be the reason for shutting down. The perimeter fence of Western village has gaps, and the park often attracts urbex enthusiasts.

Niigata Russian Village

Niigata Russian Village abandoned theme park, Japan
Niigata Russian Village, Niigata, by ccfarmer, CC BY 3.0 DEED

The most elaborate theme park, Niigata Russian Village, was opened in 1993 with the hope of fostering cultural exchange between Japan and Russia. Located near Niigata City, this was once a bizarre and ambitious theme park. However, it got shut down 6 months after it was renovated in 2002. 

Today, it makes for one heck of a place to explore. A large cathedral, a golf course, and a taxidermised woolly mammoth are a few of its intriguing features. But the hotel was recently set on fire, and no one knows how or why. Explorers back in the day also claim it was abandoned in a rush. Talk about spooky…

Kejonuma Leisure Land

Kejonuma Leisure Land abandoned theme park, Japan
Kejonuma Leisure Land, Tohoku, by ToshiJapon, CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

Located in the grassy fields of Tohoku is Kejonuma Leisure Land. Once a hub of amusement for families, the park’s rusty remains are now overtaken by nature. It was opened in 1979, and later shut down in 2000. However, the owner technically didn’t abandon it—he’s reportedly looking for a buyer. 

Even today, everything is still intact with little vandalism. A Ferris wheel, go-kart track, golf course, train track, and teacup rides, can be seen rusting. There’s also an interesting myth (or is it reality?) about the park: it is built next to a pond where a woman committed suicide. I cannot think of a better location for an abandoned amusement park in Japan.

Arima Wanda Garden

Nestled in the Hyogo Prefecture is the Arima Wanda Garden: an amusement park for dogs. Sounds a little off, eh? I was also left with more questions than answers, too… Did the dogs go to the park for entertainment? Were you meant to bring them to the park? The entire situation is just a little disturbing, and ultimately led to the park closing down in 2008.

Features of the park included tracks for dog races, splash pools, dog-sized houses, and dog-shaped train rides. There was also a cinema (for dogs, really?!) and a restaurant serving both human and canine treats. Dog-less folks could even rent a dog and take it for a walk.

The canine amusement park now stands quiet and still…

Legality and Safety Risks of Visiting Abandoned Theme Parks in Japan

In Japan, trespassing on private property—even if abandoned—is illegal. Such violations can result in penalties, such as fines, community service, or even imprisonment. So is it legal to visit these abandoned theme parks in Japan? You understood already, but unfortunately, it is not.

Some abandoned amusement parks may also have security measures in place to prevent trespassing. For example, surveillance cameras, fences, and on-site security personnel.

It is also important to consider safety risks before visiting. These include uneven floors, broken structures, and potential wildlife encounters. And maybe… the animatronic figures that inhabit the space? Not that they’re sentient or anything—but hey, we can’t be too sure.


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