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Gulliver’s Kingdom Japan, Failed Amusement Park

Failed amusement parks somehow seem sadder than most other abandoned places. They evoke ghostly memories of children’s laughter, aromas of delicious indulgent foods and the joy of wild rides. Gulliver’s Kingdom, based on Jonathan Swift’s story, sits in the shadow of Mount Fuji in Japan. It opened in 1997 with great optimism that it would help stimulate the local economy but closed its doors for the last time 10 years later. Although it is located in a tourist area it is also next to Aokigahara, Japan’s “suicide forest”, a suicide location second only to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Creepier still it also borders on the location of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult’s headquarters and nerve gas production facility. The cult released the nerve gas sarin on the Tokyo subway system in 1995, killing 12 and injuring 3,800. In the end Gulliver’s Kingdom just wasn’t big enough to be “big in Japan”.

Nothing remains of Gulliver’s Kingdom today but a rough concrete scar, and even this basic foundation is gradually being subsumed by dirt, dust and windblown sand. Was it all a dream? Perhaps it was… and if any lessons can be learned by Gulliver’s Kingdom’s rise, fall and disappearance it’s that if one must dream, at least dream big.

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