Western Village

The abandoned Western Village amusement park in Nikko, Japan.

Amidst the winter chill in Nikko, Japan, I sought out a captivating attraction nestled just a short distance from the serene Tôshôgû shrine. This enchanting locale is none other than the “Western Village,” a theme park that unfurled its tale in 1973, drawing inspiration from classic American and Italian Western films. Once an intriguing sight for visitors, the park boasts a Main Street reminiscent of John Ford pictures, a replica of Mount Rushmore, and various establishments like a barbershop, church, and saloon.

Notably, the Western Village featured a broken animatronic John Wayne, adding an uncanny dimension to its allure. The park also hosted a gun shooting display within the saloon, where villainous characters once roamed. Although officially closing its doors in 2007, the Western Village has garnered renewed allure, intentionally becoming a sought-after destination for me and fellow Haikyo (urban explorers) from Japan and beyond.