Urban Exploration in Japan
I have long been drawn to going everywhere humanly possible, and even some places which you probably shouldn’t. From skydiving to scuba diving, I’m attracted to danger and going farther than I did before. Before this, I’d never actually been to any modern ruins or done any serious urban exploration. Urban exploration is known as Haikyo (廃墟) in Japan, which means “ruins.” I had been reading up on haikyo and urban exploration in several blogs and found a bunch of cool places – Hachioji castle near Tokyo, Gunkanjima in Nagasaki, and the holy grail of Japanese Haikyo – Nara Dreamland, and old abandoned theme park, left totally intact.
After visiting Gunkanjima – the abandoned mine island, whose name in Japanese means “Battleship Island” – our interests were piqued even more. We decided to stop in Nara on our way back, rented a couple bikes right outside the train station, and biked up the hill a few kilometers to the amusement park. We didn’t really have much experience jumping fences and running around in dilapidated old buildings, but we were keen for the adventure.
Reading about the place online, I found some interesting stories about people inside the park being busted by a very aggro Japanese guy. We were a bit nervous, but we never let fear deterred us anyway. We biked around the perimeter, scoping the area out and determining where the safest place to make our entry into the park would be.
We cycled all the way over to (A), which is one old entrance to the park, an overpass-like road which leads from the Dreamland Parking to the actual park itself over the road. We considered crossing on the highway, but were a little worried about the vast overgrowth it seemed to go into. Instead, we backtracked a bit, parked our bikes at (B) near another little abandoned building.
We hopped a fence near (C) and scrambled up a short incline, where we came across some old tracks which seemed to stretch around most of the park forming the remains of some old train ride. With a faceful of spider webs, we forged on and hopped another waist-high fence and found ourselves near a water slide attraction.
At the top of the waterslide
The waterslide is tarnished and mildewy. Plants have overgrown it in parts. We climb to the top to get a better vantage point – we’ve heard the security guard has a pickup truck he drives around in, so we’re on the lookout for any signs of life. We agree to shout out to warn the rest of us if one of us sees him, and all high tail it back over the fence. We’re pretty confident we can outrun an aggro Japanese old man security guard.
Once in the park, and having checked everything out from the top of the water slide, we slinked around like special ops forces, moving from tree to wall to pillar, staying low and fast. We explored the nearby areas of the park, taking pictures of the run-down statues, buildings, and attractions. Piles on piles of plastic chairs were strewn haphazardly around the walkways and entire offices still filled with official stamps and paperwork.
Check out the rest of the pictures in the gallery:
It was a blast and a half exploring these urban ruins. If you’re ever wondering how to get in to Nara Dreamland, we didn’t find it particularly difficult. We just hid our bikes in a bush and jumped a fence in a quiet section of the woods. We did see someone when we were on top of the Castle, but they didn’t see us, and we weren’t sure if it was another urban explorer or the security guard. Either way, we never got busted. It would certainly suck to get a hefty fine levied down on you – or even worse, be deported.
If you’re really worried about getting caught you could always go at night when its much safer!