March 8, 2018

Floating hotel for Dutch theme park in Japan

Filed under: Design,General by Orangemaster @ 10:02 am


Huis ten Bosch (Hausu Ten Bosu) is a theme park near Nagasaki, Japan that is apparently 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 – and many of the famous buildings of the Netherlands have 1:1 replicas.

The Dutch-themed attraction park will be launching a floating capsule that can accommodate two or three people, with its the floor designed as an accommodation cabin and the second floor as an observation dome. The service is due to start this summer. The company plans to have a ship tow the hotel between the theme park and a nearby island.

And yes, it’s giving me a strong James Bond vibe, if you remember the final scene of The Spy Who Loved Me and the floating rescue pod that just happens to have Dom Pérignon 1952 champagne on ice.

(Link and photo:

Tags: ,

March 4, 2016

Dutchman receives compensation for Nagasaki bombing

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 11:24 am

Dick Büchel, a 95-year-old man from Waalre, Noord-Brabant has received the equivalent of 8800 euro in damages from the Japanese government for surviving the atom bomb that hit Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

He served in the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army on the island of Java where was taken prisoner by the Japanese, and the bomb exploded just 1700 metres from his prisoner of war camp.

Interestingly enough, Büchel believes in the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Americans, claiming that the bomb saved him. Some Koreans in the Netherlands were also given compensation, although everyone had to file a law suit in Japan to get it.


Tags: , , , ,

May 5, 2014

Rise and fall of a Netherlands theme park in Japan

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 1:36 pm


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.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

(Link: Metafilter/MartinWisse; photo by Veroyama, some rights reserved)

Tags: , ,

August 26, 2012

Japanese fan mail for Florentijn Hofman

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 9:50 am

Rotterdam-based artist Florentijn Hofman, him of the huge rubber duckies and city square hugging plush toys, received a letter the other day:

Hello! I’m Zozi, your fan in Japan. When the Rubber Ducks appeared at Onomichi, I was so amazed at them. I like the Rubber Duck that you’ve designed, so I made this movie.

It is a nice video. Please watch it past the first minute and a half, to see the videographer bend reality.

(Illustration: screenshot of the video. Video: Youtube / zozi009.)

Tags: , ,

May 25, 2012

The Dutch house of Matsue

Filed under: Architecture by Branko Collin @ 9:08 am

The oldest example of Western architecture in Matsue, on the West coast of Japan, is the Dutch Mansion. The Made in Matsue blog explains (pictures after the link):

This building known once as the “oranda-yashiki”(「オランダ屋敷」), or Dutch Residence/Mansion, is said to be the first example of western architecture here in the Sanin Region when construction was completed in 1871 (4th year of Meiji).

Originally built to serve as a temple school, ‘Omachi School’ (苧町学校), it is quite extraordinary that it has remained intact in its original form to this day, as buildings of this style have almost all been reconstructed on or after 100 years since construction.

It is not clear from the article whether this building was actually based on Dutch architecture, I am guessing that ‘Dutch’ in this case may have been shorthand for ‘European’.

Between 1633 and 1853 Japan closed itself off from the rest of the world, a policy called Sakoku. During this time only a limited number of countries were allowed to trade with Japan, the Netherlands being the only European trade partner. Dutch traders were confined to an artificial island in the harbour of Nagasaki called Dejima.

(Photo by Emre Ayaroglu, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , , ,

March 2, 2010

First digital magazine on Japanese affairs

Filed under: General,Literature by Orangemaster @ 11:04 am

In 2009 the Netherlands and Japan celebrated their 400th anniversary of trade relations. The story goes that back in 1609 shogun Tokugawa Iesayu issued an official trade permit to the Netherlands. Although the Portugese were the first Westerners to show up in Japan back in the mid 16th century, they were more preoccupied with pushing religion than doing business and eventually left. They did leave words like ‘tempura’ behind that most people still think is Japanese.

(I can’t believe the introduction to Japan course I had to take to finish my university studies because it fit my schedule is actually of some use!)

Another huge link between the two countries is the Tokugawa shogunate’s desire to learn about all things Western, all while practicising a policy of isolation of Japan from the world. And so Japan developed ‘rangaku’ (‘Dutch Learning’, also meaning ‘Western learning’), with the Dutch as a unique source of information about medicine and science in general. History notes that the Japanese were pretty freaked out at seeing men with red hair for the first time.

And knowing that Japan is not only up to speed with the Western world, but can kick its backside any time it wants, business is still a major common point and apparently worthy of a new online magazine.

Download the first issue of the The Netherlands-Japan Review as a PDF for free. Articles are in Dutch and English.

(Link: Illustration by 17th century artist Yoshida Hambei)

Tags: ,

March 16, 2009

Artist Shinkichi Tajiri dies

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 9:21 am

Sculptor Shinkichi Tajiri died a Dutchman in his home town of Baarlo in Limburg last Saturday, reports NOS Journaal (Dutch). The artist of Japanese-American descent who escaped the WWII concentration camps in the US by joining the army, left for Europe in 1948, disgusted that even a decorated hero like him was still considered just a Jap in his own country. However, he never renounced his nationality, feeling that he could only rightfully criticize America as an American. For most of his life he lived in Baarlo, Limburg, where he befriended my parents, and where last year he finally obtained Dutch citizenship.

Tajiri is perhaps best known for his large statues of knots, but one of my earliest memories were paintings and drawings of fantastic contraptions that could either be guns or cameras, preparing me for what nowadays is called steampunk. Sketches for some of these drawings can be found on Tajiri’s website under Drawings 1963 – 1968.

In his later years, Tajiri returned to these violent images, and a few years ago, he built four metal guardians that watch over the bridge between Blerick and Venlo, my birth town. Kunst in de Regio has a well illustrated story (Dutch) about the building of these statues.

To Ogendicht he explained his art (Dutch):

My warriors are attempts to suppress those fears, to cast off demons and to deal with nightmares. Only a small part of the 442 Regimental Combat Team, of which I was a part, survived the war. Many talented young people died on the battlefield, sometimes right next to me. That affected me deeply, along with the shootings, explosions and bayonet fights. For the past 60 years I have tried to provide shape to the psychological scars that all these impressive experiences have left.

Photo of a Tajiri knot by Marja van Bochove, some rights reserved.

Tags: , , , ,

February 8, 2008

Netherlands strongest European economy

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:04 pm

According to z24 (Dutch), the Netherlands is in second place on the so-called Misery Index, right after Japan. The index adds unemployment rate to inflation rate, and a high position (low value) indicates a healthy economy.

  1. Japan: 4,5
  2. Netherlands: 4,9
  3. Norway: 5,3
  4. Denmark: 5,5
  5. Switzerland: 5,6
  6. South Korea: 6,8
  7. Great-Britain: 7,3
  8. Australia: 7,5
  9. Austria: 7,9
  10. Luxemburg: 8,2

You could probably come up with all sorts of reservations against such an index. For starters, unemployment rates are notoriously unreliable, as they tend to be closer related to propaganda than to statistics. But even a Netherlands that is merely highish in the index might be still be doing well because of it. Z24 writer Mathijs Bouman points out that consumer confidence in the Netherlands took a dive the past half year from 15% to -2%. The factors that have a healing influence on lowered consumer confidence? Low unemployment and inflation rates.

Tags: , , , , , ,