Western Village

abandoned, amusement park, attraction park, haikyo, japan, japanese, kanto, ruin, theme park, tochigi, urban exploration, urbex

Once known as the Kinugawa Ranch (ウエスタン村), it was built around 1973. At that time, it was a very simple place where people could enjoy cowboy-like kind of activities. His owner, a local named Ominami-san, mentioned in an article that “the purpose in life is not to earn money but to make dreams come true” and that is basically what he did. The ranch became a real theme-park in 1975 and was properly named: Western Village.

Located next to Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture, it can be easily reached from Tokyo on a one-day trip. Therefore, I had multiple occasions to visit this haikyo, as I had a chance to be around many times.

The entrance is barely protected and has many entrances which made it easy for anyone to come here and play. The owner probably stopped caring about trying to keep its new tourists out. A river split the Western Village into two different distinct parts. The first is the actual village, extremely Far-West looking with its barber, bank, prison, saloons… everything can be found here, it is like a movie set.

Crossing the river by a cranky old bridge, I realized that it probably was the Rio Grande. A bit unsettling but there was also a range of guns on the side on the river. The mexican side actually seemed to still be like the Far West, but it was really interesting as well. Many palm trees and a dense vegetation made it wilder and there are many houses and barns in the middle. I followed there a railway that goes around the area and found two old SL trains that can be seen in the rear of the park.

Ominami-san made his park grow every year, to the detriment of being profitable. In 1995, he even added a copy of the famous Mount Rushmore to the Western Village, seemingly on an impulse. Today, the small thematic park is completely forgotten. From time to time, tourists driving around the area of Nikko get surprised by this Japanese version of the Mount Rushmore that appears only for one second and they have to stop and come back to make sure it was not a hallucination!

The park closed in 2007.

FACTS

  • 1973 – 2007
  • Tresurs

    Oh, how heartbreaking. We made several stained glass windows for Western Village and am stunned to see these photos. As of this date, we are deeply sorry for Japan’s huge loss caused by the earthquakes and tsunami. Our love to everyone. We pray for all. Love~ Barbara and Sharon Hyde, California, USA

    • http://www.totorotimes.com TigrouMeow

      Hopefully everything will get better, and that the north of Japan will get its visitors back one day… Let’s hope for the best.

  • JMichael

    Where is this located?

    • http://www.totorotimes.com TigrouMeow

      In Tochigi Prefecture!

  • Mony

    I been here in 1989 whit a Mexican Group, Saludos from acapulco Mexico

    • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Totoro Times

      Thanks for your comment Mony, that is very interesting! What did you do there, a performance?

  • sam

    this is amazing..frozen in time…the people are creepy tho…but the giant teddy bears are great

    • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Totoro Times

      The Teddy Bears were the best!

  • Mony

    My first trip to Japan with great friends

    • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Totoro Times

      Any photos to share ?

  • Andrea Ross

    Who can we contact to take a trip there? We are in Misawa Japan now…

  • Steve Hastings

    True story: My wife and I visited friends in Japan in 1999. We took a train ride to a resort town to the north of Tokyo, to give our friends a couple of days off from playing host to us. While I was riding the train, I looked out the window and saw… Mount Rushmore. WTF!

    Imagine the shock, with no warning, of seeing such a sight in the middle of nowhere in Japan. It really was a WTF moment.

    In the resort town I saw some sort of brochure for a theme park, and I realized that the Mount Rushmore I had seen was a real thing, part of the theme park. Thanks to this page, now I know that I must have seen Western Village. Man, I wish I had been able to go to Western Village while it was open.

    • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Totoro Times

      Awesome story Thanks for sharing You definitely should have gone!

  • Alisa

    Hi, can i invite you go with me? I already got the address the this place.

    • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

      Sorry Alisa, this place is gone…

    • missDD86

      As far as I can tell, it is NOT gone. It still shows up on Earth and Street View which is very recent, as of 2014. I think certain “attractions” are gone, but the buildings still stand and it is still visible from the road and reads “Western Village” plain as day. It is mostly fenced in except for this white building that has the sign still on it.

      • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

        Really? If it is not gone we could definitely go together (are you from Tokyo? you can contact me through http://www.meow.fr). There is something I would like to do there. But I want to make sure, I really heard that it was completely demolished. Let’s find out!

        • missDD86

          Why don’t you check the original Japanese wiki? It doesn’t say there that it’s been demolished; it’s just in disrepair..

          • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

            Of course I checked. But it doesn’t say that the land has been bought in order to replace the park by some kind of power plant. Don’t trust Wikipedia too much for those relatively “non-important” places, it’s better to check news website and blogs.

          • missDD86

            Well the Wiki has been pretty accurate and nowhere does it say it’s demolished. Harder to access maybe but not gone. Probably have to strategically find a time when security is low. I remember someone sneaking into Dreamland during the night hours for example, and staying overnight in the park to get photos. As a result he got photos of dreamland at night as well as during sunrise. Security seems to be away during those hours. Maybe something similar could be the case for Western Village.

          • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

            I went to Western Village 4 times between 2011 and 2014 included and there was no security – I am pretty sure nobody cares about the place. Today, if the park still stand, it might be different since they plan to build this power plant (wiki will probably be updated about this). Dreamland is way more dangerous but I also went 4 times without any issue (mainly by night).

          • missDD86

            You probably did go during those times but maybe some attention was brought to the place because of people vandalizing it and stealing things. Just because a place is abandoned doesn’t mean it isn’t still someone’s property. Someone set Niigata Russian Village on fire at some point, probably because they didn’t think anyone cared about the place. As a result they eventually ended up with security as someone else tried to go and they were turned away, this was shortly before it was demolished. Well, people do things to places like this because they think no one cares, and it’s those people who ruin good things for those who just want to explore and have no ill intentions. As I said, I read that there is now security on the premises, so it could be attempted but it’s probably very risky now. Someone cared enough to hire security.

          • missDD86

            And the reason I suggested night time is that it seems that they don’t hire overnight guards for these places (take Dreamland for example). They assume that people only would attempt during the day but not at night. Dreamland should definitely have night time security. Still, even with circumstances the way they currently are, a friend of mine who recently moved to Japan has still managed to get in DL even during the day time even though on one occasion he almost did get caught. But he’s gone back a few times with no issue.

          • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

            Not sure about the Western Village and when Florian went exactly, but the Russian Village seem to be also still up. They are both going to be demolished this year though; I got this information from an explorer living nearby.

          • missDD86

            He went to Western Village and I quote “60 hours into 2015″. He just officially made the post earlier today as well. So far, sounds like a train was removed from the park but that’s it.

          • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

            That’s a good news! I think I will go for a last explore, my friend’s kids really wanted to go see it, might be the last chance!

          • missDD86

            Sounds like a plan! Likewise, I will probably mention to Florian that Russian Village is not demolished yet or at least that it may not be. It was a place he’d wanted to check out..

          • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

            Yeah you should! However, the Russian Village is not that great. I went 2 years ago and it was really in a bad state! The church is still standing nicely but the place has been seriously trashed, that’s too bad…

        • missDD86

          And according to what I read there, it was SUPPOSED to get demolished in 2012 but they never followed through with it. But due to recent vandalism and theft on the property, there is now a security that regularly patrols the premises. So it sounds like at this point, if you attempt to go, there is a high chance that you will be caught and have to pay a hefty fine. If you go, it is at your own risk.

        • missDD86

          I was able to confirm that Western Village is still up. A blog known as Abandoned Kansai was just there within the last 24-48hrs and said that MOST of the park is still up. So it’s as I said before, certain things might be gone, but it is not demolished or completely gone. Not sure why people make things up and say it’s demolished, but I feel that maybe someone said that somewhere just to deter potential explorers, because once again, it was noted that there has been theft and vandalism on the property. Wiki wins this time. Park is still there. Makes people speculate whether or not Russian Village is really in fact gone. It also still shows up on Maps and Earth as well, with a few buildings gone but the main Church is still there and a few other buildings.

          • Alisa

            Can we go tgt?

          • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

            Alisa, you can also write a post or send a message on the Haikyo.org Facebook, here: https://www.facebook.com/urbex.haikyo.

    • missDD86

      Alisa, the blogger at Abandoned Kansai just made a trip to Western Village within the last 24-48hrs. It is still indeed in existence. Some attractions are gone, but he said MOST everything is still there.

  • Ethan

    Hi Jordy, when will you go Western village? I plan to go there next week, could we go together?

    • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

      I actually planned to go again with a friend of mine and her kids to show them around and then we’ll be traveling in the area. I am not sure I want to go twice as I went too many times already… But you can surely find a buddy to go with you, there are so many people up for this kind of aventures!

      • Ethan

        So could you please let me know after you went there? As I want to know whether it is demolished or not. Hope it didnt!

        • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

          Please go first! No I am kidding Please remind me at the end of the month, I think I will go there in the meantime.

          • H

            What time do you think that’s the best time entry the park? Such as morning at Saturday.. Etc

          • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

            To be honest, anytime is fine

          • H

            Thanks gor your reply!! Btw it is the park have securities?

          • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Exploring Japan

            The only security the park has, I believe, is the neighbours. They might call the police if they see you jumping around But that’s pretty much it!

  • Billy Mocean

    I’d be up for a trip to shoot time lapse if anyone is interested.

    • http://www.totorotimes.com/ Jordy Meow • Abandoned Japan

      I have never been there by night, so why not? Feel free to drop me a message through http://www.meow.fr