Last year we took a road trip while in Japan. Instead of seeing the usual beautiful sites of Osaka, Kyoto, or Hokkaido we searched for the perilous places or Haikyo, which means ruins in Japan. It only took a little googling to find some amazing abandoned locations. A two-hour car ride outside of Tokyo, Nikko is the home of what once was Western Village a western themed amusement park discontinued since 2006.
It was supposed only to be closed for renovations and reopen in 2007, but that never happened. The park is in an eerie form as if for over ten years it's waiting for people to come back but has been forgotten about. We slept in the car in Lawson's parking lot and woke up at sunrise, assuming there would be fewer people around. Luckily, we didn't encounter any people or security. It was super creepy in the early morning. Entering was easy, and we had found an entrance the night before that just required a little ducking.
Our first place to explore was too dark to shoot photos; it was a haunted house that reminded me of the one I went to at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as a kid. Imagine something already designed to be scary but now abandoned for ten years and almost in the dark with no one around. We had fun scaring each other and ready to for anything inside the park after that
The photo studio came up next. Sadly, it looked like it was ransacked by people going through the clothes and outfits and spilling it all over the floor. It hurts my heart to see it thrashed because of what photography means to me. There were still clothes on hangers and signified to me there was not a disregard for the entire place. We played with the props and took some photos ourselves. It was interesting to see printed photographs of Japanese children dressed from the wild west. It throws you off seeing so many familiar American things but knowing we were in Japan or catching the signs in Japanese.
Walking further in it was clear that the park was much bigger than we imagined. The arcade section was huge with many different games and machines. Truly unique and at this point antiques. It's sad to see things that can create so much joy go to waste. But I enjoyed the alternative reality if gave us; haunting but intriguing. It didn't feel real, but if you stopped to think about, this was once a place filled with laughter and excitement.
It's always more interesting when things had been left closer to how they really were. I get a stronger idea of what it was really like. It's always a little more dismal as if the owners never got a chance to come back to collect their belongings, or say goodbye.