Hanayashiki is the name of the amusement park I visited with my roommate, Jo when I lived in Japan. It was a tiny little place in the northeast part of Tokyo in the old downtown district called Aksakusa, and had maybe 4 rides in total. It played loud, blaring infantilized music, and came with requisite cutesy poo Japanese girl dressed like a kitty to greet you with a kind irasshiae (welcome). We rode only one ride and sat inside an enclosed pod which did a quick tour around the park about 15' up. Jo, who was afraid of heights, sat on the floor the entire time and refused to open her eyes. Laughing, I asked her why she even agreed to go on it given her phobia. She gave me a goofy grin and shrugged her shoulders then went back to clutching the center post of our table.
It made me a bit sad that, aside from the odd guest here and there, the park was largely devoid of customers. A saccharine wonderland that never truly achieved it's promised glory, and despite the fact it is only a few short blocks from the endless tide of tourists washing over the Aksakusa Temple, or, Sensoji as it is called, the pull of cleansing and purifying the spirit remained greater than the simple amusements the park offered.
I've since learned it has been abandoned and shuttered up, a victim of the previous ten years economic meltdown. Grass grows between the cracks in the concrete and the ticket windows smudged and opaque from neglect. The sky ride that I enjoyed so much with my friend locked motionless forever, watching over a city that cares nothing for it.
A strange feeling comes over me as I close my eyes and remember the sound of our laughter knowing that both it and this place will never be heard again.
Rachel, January 2014