So my friend messaged me about two weeks ago saying, “How do you feel about abandoned amusement parks?”. I was hooked immediately and inquired about it more. My friend showed me a page on Atlas Obscura for Takakanonuma Greenland, an old Japanese amusement park.
Per Atlas Obscura’s reference, the park was shut down in 1999 and left behind to rust. Many intrepid urban explorers has dared to venture into this place and see this eerily creepy place in person to take some wonderful pictures. Immediately, plans went into action with my friend to plan a road trip here since we both easily lived close enough to make a small road trip out of it. We knew somewhat about where it was located, but not exactly. In fact, even AO mentions that the park has become so obscure that people don’t know where it is located. So I began the great Internet search to find out where this park is located.
From what I could best ascertain… the park was located somewhere around a small town called Hobara in Fukushima prefecture. I tried taking the most tedious approach possible at first and started scanning Google Maps around Hobara looking for anything that even looked remotely like a roller coaster from satellite. There were GPS coordinates posted on AO, but they lead you directly into the center of Hobara, not exactly the spot where an abandoned park would lie. While scanning the southern outskirts of Hobara, I noticed that there is a “foggy” section of map that was blocking me from seeing the details of the ground clearly. Obviously, this was just from two different sets of map data being merged together, but it did give some weight to the fact that Takakanonuma Greenland was considered haunted now.
So Google Maps wasn’t getting me anywhere quickly. I decided to try combing the Internets some more. Most of my searches for the park just turned up page after page of duplicate pictures. Still nice to look at, but it wasn’t getting me anywhere… Finally, I found some pictures that weren’t quite like the others.
Actual tickets from the park!!!! With this information, we were able to confirm that the park was located in an area called Numanishi. http://goo.gl/maps/fn6B1 Also, the park’s name is slightly different. I think the park was more commonly called just “Greenland”. Over the years, people may have mistranslated the kanji and added the Japanese ‘joining’ particle ‘no’ to the name as well. However, when joining a proper noun with a regular noun, you don’t use a ‘no’ particle (example using English, “Indiana-NO-University” would mean “A University in Indiana” such as Indiana, Purdue or Notre Dame). You just combine the two nouns together. Also, the last kanji in Takaka (looks like a 7 with a line through the middle) has several meanings, most prominently being ‘ko’. Well, there just happens to be a Takako (with the same kanji) very close to Numanishi on that Google Maps as well. I finally had a solid lead on this park!!!
So in my search, I also decided to contact some of the original photographers of these awesome photos. I sent out an email politely asking them if they could clarify on a map where this place was located. Then I patiently waited while sharing the leads I had already found with my friend. I also decided to try looking through Google Earth’s photos of Numanishi and found a couple in the area, notably…
I saw this photo and was immediately struck with a sense of familiarity. I didn’t know when yet, but I had seen this photo before! I went back to the pages upon pages of the same photo feeds I had been looking at and finally found it…
The same photograph that a Swedish photographer, Jens Eriksson, had posted in 2006. Addpage’s photo was posted in 2010. Do you notice the blatant difference I saw? There is not a roller coaster in Addpage’s photo! This did not sit well with me. On top of that, later that day, I also got an email reply back from one of the Japanese photographers I emailed. In short, he said that the park was tore down sometime in 2010 as well and is a bunch of turf now (that presumably looks much like addpage’s photo). Finally, things made sense as to why I couldn’t see the area at all from Google Maps. It wasn’t even there to begin with…
So, a little downtrodden, I reported this information to my friend. After thinking about it for a little bit, I kinda noticed that Atlas Obscura’s reference to this place containing a prohibitive level of radioactivity after the 2011 earthquake was bullshit. I now make this blog post so that it make help to inform other people out there that unfortunately, this park is very likely to be gone and to also let them know that Fukushima is not in the desolate condition this article tries to pawn off.