Russian Village Theme Park
Located in Niigata Prefecture, the Russian Village theme park opened its doors in 1993 and, due to financial issues (as well as lack of public interest), closed its doors forever in 2004. This place is in a complete state of abandoned dissaray (and probably the most trashed place I've ever had the pleasure of wading through), but there are still some vestiges of its former glory dotted around it's grounds.
The park is tucked away in a valley and you have to walk down a winding road for about 20 minutes before you get your first glimpse of the main building (a huge traditional Russian church). On the day I went, the road was blocked off with a sign saying no entry (obviously)...so I wandered off into a dense forest area and attempted to climb a hill, hoping that I'd just end up inside the park somewhere on the other side…but this proved extremely difficult (anyone who has attempted to bush bash in Japan knows how impossible it is - the foliage is incredibly dense and you get swallowed up, cut to shreds and attacked by vines and branches....it's very Evil Dead). So I went back to the road block (covered in dirt and a few scratches from my former failed attempt) and decided to just quickly jump the fence. The road winds around a hill and is very exposed, so I walked quickly and cautiously, hoping that a car or a person wouldn’t suddenly appear around the corner. When I reached the foregrounds I spotted a few trucks and some tractors (and realised this place is in the process of demolishment), so I stood in some bushes for a while and scoped out the area to make sure no workmen were hanging around. When I realised that the coast was clear, I quickly ran towards the first building and snuck in.
My first sight was some kind of ride on a conveyer belt. At first I thought it was a roller coaster, but upon closer inspection, noted that it was some kind of family friendly golf buggy type contraption. This building was trashed and pieces of corrugated metal hung from it's ceilings. When the wind blew, the metal would make these intense grinding sounds that sent tingles up my spine (like fingernails on a blackboard). I took a few snaps and then ventured on to the Russian church. The early afternoon light streaming through it's stained glass windows and hitting the floor looked awesome. A few church pews and hundreds of torn book pages littered the floor in front of the alter and the light from the windows illuminated the scene in a sort of blue icy hue. I decided to walk down a hallway towards the hotel area and noted that huge areas of the walls were charred and burnt. This place had obviously been gutted by a fire a while back, so everything was black and the furnishings were covered in soot. I checked out a few of the singed guest rooms and then decided to walk outside and down a pathway to a recreational area. This space opened up into a semicircular market square, but most of the buildings were trashed and reduced to rubble due to demolition. I checked out a few of the interiors, but they were just full of random junk and televisions and white goods. The coolest building housed a trashed display of a miniature Siberian Village made of pine wood and another which had heaps of chairs thrown all over the floor. I stumbled around in the debris and rubbish for a while and then got a bit bored so decided to go for an outdoor nature walk along a trail that stemmed off the park grounds. The area surrounding the Russian Village is beautiful and picturesque with lots of trees and nature all around. There’s also huge snow-capped mountains surrounding the valley so it’s a little breath taking. This gave me an opportunity to actually spend time engaging with trees and birds and forest stuff (and on a ‘trail’ as opposed rummaging and getting scratched up by foliage as mentioned earlier). It was also a nice contrast to the usual decayed interiors and rotted human spaces in which I spend most of my time (which I love)…but outdoor Japanese nature is truly awesome and wonderful…so I hung here for a while just checking things out in the woods until the sun set…then had a fun time making my way back out in the dark like a horror movie forest creep.
This was a nice little spot however I would’ve preferred to visit this place when it was fresher and not so destroyed. If you know how to get here and plan on making a visit, do it very soon – it won’t be around for much longer (or it may already be gone).