Hidden among overgrown flora, a dilapidated theme park wastes away in Tochigi prefecture. A veritable ghost town, Western Village is host to little more than artificial stand-ins living within its walls, frozen in time. Though the park closed its doors to patrons in 2012, it has since remained as an attraction to those searching for something a bit off the beaten path. Anyone interested in ‘haikyo’ (a Japanese word for “ruins”) would find plenty to explore here.
The Sheriff taking it easy
Upon entering the mysterious place, you’ll soon realize the townsfolk aren’t all that talkative. The sheriff sits gazing out the window of the local police station while the bank teller stands patiently at his counter against a backdrop of deteriorating money and dust.
Some residents have seen better days
On closer inspection you can see that some of the mannequins are actually automatons and not all of them have remained intact. It’s clear that the place has suffered some vandalism which in many cases has managed to provide an atmosphere not unlike a haunted house. Displaced mannequin parts can be found in the halls and hanging from walls. And a few of the less fortunate robotic residents have their ‘parts’ exposed.
Welcome to the arcade
An arcade still stands, complete with plenty of rusted broken-down games and a defeated yet smiling mascot. It’s hard to imagine that all of this was completely abandoned but it perfectly complements the overall aura.
The center of the maze
One particularly unsettling area was a kind of maze. Featuring contorted architecture, pitch black halls, and an ominously lit chair, this place was like an asymmetrical nightmare.
No more rodeos
Shimo-Imaichi station is the closest train station to Western Village. It is just under a 3 hour train ride from Tokyo so it makes a good day trip for the adventurous. As with most haikyo locations, enter at your own risk and watch your step.
Western Village, 315 Kuribara, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-2421
Article by: Dennis Owen Dugan
Photos by: Dennis Owen Dugan