Faded Memories of Japan

Hanayashiki Amusement Park, Aksakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Photo by themeparkreview.com

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


Puroland Review- Hello Kitty’s Amusement Park, Tokyo, Japan

Straight up let me tell you I hated this place with a blazing passion and was super pissed off I spent even 1 yen to visit it (nevermind the $120 it cost for 3 of us which didn’t include the one lousy ride they had – that would’ve cost another $12 a person.)

I’m a chick. I grew up on Hello Kitty. In general, I love cats. Thus going to Puroland was very high on my list. It took all my powers of persuasion to convince the two guys with me to go. I wish I had never left the hotel.

Firstly, it’s an hour away from Tokyo on the Keio Line headed to Tama center.

When you arrive, it certainly seemed promising (ref pic below.)

Puroland is Sanrio's Hello Kitty amusement Park outside Tokyo, Japan.

Puroland is Sanrio’s Hello Kitty amusement Park outside Tokyo, Japan.

When you get to the window you have to choose between a ticket for access to everything or access to everything excluding rides. Note that!! Rides(s)  Rides being the plural of the word Ride indicates more than one ride. In this case, I was hoping for maybe a roller coaster or zipper or other cool stuff like that.

Upon entering the structure, Sanrio pukes Hello Kitty and all her buddies on you bombarding every conceivable sense and after a quick whip around the single hall, you realize that’s all there is.

There is precisely one ride, a slow boat to nowhere, that even the toddlers seemed incredibly bored by.

They had one show going on with some dancers in cat costumes otherwise there was fuck all else.

One hundred twenty dollars, an hour train ride, 48 hours of groveling and begging to go and this was the result.

Basically I just wanted to curl into the fetal position, stick one thumb up my ass, the other in my mouth and cry myself to sleep to dream of all the cocktails or delicious foods I could’ve spent that money on.

Here is who Puroland might be good for:

  • Really old grandmothers who get around on walkers and would be happy to just sit somewhere a while.
  • Girl toddlers aged 2-3 years (ONLY girl toddlers, take a boy toddler here and he will be unconditionally scarred for life.)
  • The guy in the cubicle next to you that you hate with every mortal fiber of your being who steals credit for your work, has a ghastly flatulence problem and to whom you would like to see tortured endlessly by having to sit through a saccharine, grotesquely overpriced Sanrio-centric singing and dancing show.

Final thoughts: Do Not Ever Go To This Place……..Ever.