Can you guess where this 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 may be yet another theme park you might want to consider. Its name 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.
The theme park is quite huge (such that if you get tired of walking and want to see some scenery, it’s better to just take a boat ride down the park’s 6 km-long canal) and is divided into several areas:
- Flower Road – You can see this zone right after you enter the park; it’s 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. Around this area, there’s also a shop where you can rent a Dutch traditional 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.
- Harbor Town – 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 2 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. Rather out of place here is the Ishinkan, a martial arts center where you can have a samurai or ninja experience and try your hand at archery.
- Forest Villa – This is a rather quiet area, and there isn’t much to see other than Link Fantasia, a skating rink that features changing illuminations brought about by interactive mapping.
- Tower City – This area is known for the Domtoren, a 105-meter high tower, which is a 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. There aren’t many attractions in this area, though; it’s mostly just restaurants.
- Attraction Town – Of course, this is where most of the attractions are! If you’re a fan of the anime One Piece, you can take a cruise here. It also has a simulation of a great flood that befell Holland, an attraction that uses face-capturing technology to make you the character of a movie, a mirror maze, a trick art museum, and more.
- Art Garden – Aside from the eponymous art garden, it has a dome theater where you can see panoramic 360-degree images. You can also ride a horse-drawn carriage around this area.
- Adventure Park – This area has a zip line, a 5-storey maze, and an adventure course called Castle in the Sky.
- Thriller City – 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 not as scary and are thus 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. By the welcome gate, you can also find a teddy bear museum, and you can inquire about riding a Segway or canoeing.
It’s also recommended to visit Huis Ten Bosch for 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, as it’s really far more magnificent in person. After all, it’s not just a part of the park that’s lit up—the entire park is!
|Name:||Huis Ten Bosch|
|Pricing info:||6,200 yen (adults), 5,700 yen (seniors), 5,200 yen (junior high and high school students), 3,900 yen (elementary school students)|
|Address:||1-1 Huis Ten Bosch Machi, Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture|
|Access:||Huis Ten Bosch station/bus stop|
|Business hours:||9:00 am-10:00 pm|