Nara Dreamland 奈良ドリームランド
The Aesthetics of Abandoned Places
Japan is full of strange and unusual places. Some have become true attractions, like the abandoned Nara Dreamland Park.
There are many strange places in Japan. Today we're taking a look at Nara Dreamland.
An unfortunate infringement
If you go north of Nara, near Todai-ji and the Giant Buddha, you may catch a glimpse of the isolated turrets of a fairytale castle. This is the heart of the old Nara Dreamland amusement park.
The theme park opened in 1961, and looked almost identical to Disneyland. It was actually designed in collaboration with Walt Disney himself, but without being able to use the name. There you will find an inferior replica of Sleeping Beauty's castle, as well as other main attractions of Disneyland.
Death of an amusement park
For a long time, Nara Dreamland was THE theme park for residents of Osaka, but the opening of a licensed Tokyo Disneyland, and then Universal Studios in Osaka, dealt a mortal blow, and the park permanently closed in 2006.
The whole place was left abandoned, its doors locked, and vegetation growing wild everywhere. Was this the end? Not quite.
The abandoned aesthetic
Nara Dreamland, in its gradual degradation, became in a few years a special place known as a haikyo.
Haikyo are abandoned places that fascinate the Japanese because they look old, but are comparatively new, relics of the recent past.
It's similar to the concept of wabisabi, which combines an aesthetic value and a philosophical lesson in degradation in the signs of the passage of time .
Nara Dreamland then began to be frequented by photographers, and curious urban explorers, who sometimes just come to see the place from the outside.
The castle and the "big eight" are the main attractions. Nara Dreamland remains a private gated property closed to the public, waiting for a purpose. Visits inside are therefore sadly not allowed.