We are in Ōsaki, in Japan’s remote Tohoku region, where an abandoned amusement park rests upon the banks of the Kejonuma Dam.
Once known as Kejonuma Leisure Land, the park was originally built in 1979 in an effort to bring joy back to the community after the ravages of World War II.
In its heyday the amusement park, with a campsite and driving range, boasted up to 200,000 visitors and offered an assortment of rides, including a Ferris wheel, tea cup ride, miniature train ride and carousel. In addition, the park also provided a go kart track, golfing range and a wooden obstacle course.
Unfortunately in 2000 Kejonuma was forced to suffer a fate all too familiar with other small amusement parks and not only in Japan: it was forced to close its doors due to lack of customers, attributed to Japan’s low birth rate and economic collapse.
This was largely as a result of the park’s remote location, but the opening of large amusement parks such as Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan drew visitors away from smaller parks.
Today, the deserted rides and other relics of a bygone era are tourist attractions in their own right and the rusting remains of a once colorful Ferris wheel is all that stands out above the tall grass. The grounds are now a jungle, filled with treasure for urban explorers to discover, as nature slowly takes back this long-abandoned park.
It is said that the theme park was built next to the site of the “pond of the ghost woman”, an ancient myth which is claimed could have been factor in its untimely closure.
As story goes, a beautiful damsel supposedly lived near a pond in the area well-known for its abundance of snakes. One day the woman gave birth to a baby in the form of a snake, which slithered away into the pond, where its cries could be heard every night.
Driven mad by her serpent baby’s incessant moans, the young mum committed suicide by jumping in the pond, cursing the site upon her death.
Lot of Japanese people, especially women, are quite superstitious. However, if that urban legend would have had any impact, probably the park wouldn’t have been in business for 21 years and it would have been bankrupt within months.
In any case, an intriguing tale gives an added value of this already fascinating site.