Rise and fall of a Netherlands theme park in Japan
Michael Palin once said (as quoted by Spike Japan): “There is something almost transcendentally surreal about seeing a woman dressed in a large white bonnet, dirndl, black stockings and clogs riding a bicycle and at the same time playing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ on a trombone.”
Huis ten Bosch (Hausu Ten Bosu) is a theme park near Nagasaki “more than three times the size of Tokyo Disneyland and still bigger than Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea combined”. Its theme is The Netherlands – all of it. Many of the famous buildings of the Netherlands have 1:1 replicas there that function as hotels and betting houses.
The park was built during an economic boom and consequently opened during a crisis. It has struggled ever since. Spike Japan visited it in 2010 and wrote an engaging, meandering and well illustrated three part ‘long read’ that will keep you entertained for an hour or so.
Softened by the passage of time and the accumulation of research, Huis ten Bosch is now in retrospect my most beloved example of a favorite kind of place, one like Seagaia that clings tenaciously by its fingertips to the cliff of life, against all odds. Of one thing we can be certain, though: until Huis ten Bosch, the greatest artifact by far of those crazy eighties years, finally fails or flourishes, the boil of the Bubble will not have been lanced from the body of Japan for good.