Can you guess where the above picture was taken?
If you answered “the Netherlands,” “Holland,” or “somewhere in Europe,” sorry, but you’re mistaken! That’s Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki that was designed to look like a Dutch village. If all you know of Japan’s theme parks are Disney and Universal Studios, this is a theme park you might want to consider. The name Huis-ten-Bosch is Dutch for “house in the woods,” and is named after one of the Dutch royal family’s residences. Most of the theme park uses Dutch architecture, so just walking around it is already a pleasure in itself.
Pro tip: The theme park is huge, so big that it’s better to just take a boat ride down the park’s six kilometer-long canal if you get tired of walking and just want to see some scenery.
10 Must-See Areas in Huis Ten Bosch
Near the entry of the park, this is the area with the windmills and, as the name implies, flowers. Inside one of the windmills is a museum where you can see how windmills work. There’s also a shop where you can rent a traditional Dutch outfit.
World Bazaar and Amsterdam City
This area has restaurants, shops, and a hotel. Here, you can find the Gyaman Museum, a glass art museum; a floral clock; a carousel; and Pandora, a music box museum.
Of particular interest here is Palace Huis Ten Bosch, a recreation of its Dutch namesake. Inside it is a museum. There’s also an imperial garden behind the palace. There are two other museums in this area: a porcelain museum and a shipping museum. You can also ride the De Liefde, a reconstruction of a Dutch ship that reached Japan in the 17th century. Also here is the Ishinkan, a martial arts center where you can have a samurai or ninja experience and try your hand at archery. Also, for the dinosaur nerds, there’s an AR dino-hunting experience available.
This is a rather quiet area, but it features Link Fantasia, a skating rink that features changing illuminations controlled by interactive mapping.
This area is known for the Domtoren, a 105m-high recreation of the Netherlands’ tallest church tower. The Domtoren has observatories on its 4th and 5th floors, from which you can see a breathtaking view of Omura Bay. Tower City’s many restaurants mean it’s also a great place to get lunch.
Of course, this is where most of the attractions are! If you’re a fan of the anime One Piece, you can take a themed cruise here. It also features the Horizon Adventure Plus simulation of a great flood that befell Holland (real water is involved and the attraction features weather effects). For the sweet-toothed, considering Count Chocolate’s Mansion, which is pretty much what it sounds like. There’s also a mirror maze, a trick art museum, and a 360-degree CGI film theatre. If all the excitements leaves you in need of a drink and somewhere to sir down, drop into the Ice Cafe, where everything is made of ice.
Aside from the eponymous art garden, it has a dome theater which projects panoramic 360-degree images, a helicopter sightseeing ride, and an illuminated Ferris Wheel. For the romantics, horse-drawn carriage rides around this area are available.
One for the adrenalin fiends, this area has a zip line, a five-storey maze, and the Castle in the Sky adventure course. There’s also the escape-room-style Dinosaur Woods (for a limited time only; don’t try do this in mules) and, for the little ones, SoftyLand.
This is the area with various spooky attractions such as a Digital Horror House, a Detention Ward with a mad doctor, a haunted castle attraction, a Japanese ghost story hall, and more. Some attractions are toned down a bit to be kid-friendly. The 5D Miracle Tour, at least, doesn’t seem to be a scary attraction, and the Ghost Wedding seems to mix horror and comedy.
Naturally, the welcome gate and farewell gate have souvenir shops where you can buy not only Huis Ten Bosch-themed souvenirs, but also Nagasaki’s specialties, such as castella, a sponge cake introduced by the Portuguese. In the vicinity of the welcome gate, you can also find a teddy bear museum, and you can inquire about riding a Segway or canoeing.
Huis Ten Bosch also has some primo some seasonal sights. If flowers are your thing, Huis Ten Bosch has beautiful tulips from mid-February to mid-April, shibazakura (moss phlox or pink moss) throughout April, roses from May to June, and hydrangeas from June to July. They’ve also got pools, water fights, and fireworks in summer.
But what Huis Ten Bosch is probably best known for is Kingdom of Light, its seasonal illuminations. This impressive light display consists of over 11 million LED lightbulbs, and is said to be the world’s largest illumination display, as well a consecutive number-one contender for the title of Japan’s best illumination. The best time to see the illuminations is in winter, especially during Christmas season, as these illuminations are a popular Christmas attraction. Photos just don’t do the illumination justice. After all, it’s not just a part of the park that’s lit up—the entire park is!
Know before you go: tickets, opening hours and transport options
Ticket prices and multi-day passes for Huis Ten Bosch
An adult one-day ticket (called a “passport” on the parks’s website) for Huis Ten Bosch comes in at a very reasonable ¥7,000, and you can get them at the park or in advance online. Teens get in for ¥6,000, kids for ¥4,600, and senior citizens for ¥6,500. A two-day pass is a little less than double that price, and three-day passes as also available. Please note that some attractions will cost a little extra.
There are two late-in-the-day options which are a few hundred yen cheaper: a Moonlight Passport that allows entry after 16:00, and an After 5 Pass, which allows, as the name suggests, access after 17:00.
If you’re particularly flush, there’s a VIP Premium Passport, which allows you to skip the queues and additional fees. These go for ¥15,000 for adults and seniors, and ¥10,000 for teens and kids.
Opening Hours at Huis Ten Bosch
The park is open from 09:00 to 22:00 every day. Golden Week 2019 sees opening hours increasing a little, from 08:00 to 23:00. You can check opening hours for the day you plan to go on the park’s calendar.
How to get to Huis Ten Bosch
From Nagasaki Station, take a train, either the JR Seaside Liner Rapid or a normal train, to Huis Ten Bosch Station in Sasebo. The 90-minute ride costs about ¥1,470. There are also buses to Huis Ten Bosch available on weekends and holidays. If you have a SUNQ Pass, you can use that for the bus. From Fukuoka, catch a JR train to Huis Ten Bosch Station.
If you’re driving, parking is available, at between ¥800 and ¥2,500, depending on the size of the car. More info is available on the park’s website.