Forgotten piece of Russia in the center of Japan: Niigata Russian Village
Forgotten piece of Russia in the center of Japan: Niigata Russian Village

In 1993, a huge theme park, Niigata Russian Village, opened right near Tokyo to visually cement the friendship between Russia and Japan and introduce local residents to a different culture. Against the backdrop of green hills, Orthodox domes towered, all around you could see Russian inscriptions, images of bears and nesting dolls. However, why is nothing known to modern tourists about this attraction?

An abandoned theme park in Japan. Photo: Abandoned Kansai Niigata Russian Village Burnt down hotel building. Photo: Michael John Grist Burned down hotel. Photo: Michael John Grist

British writer and photographer Michael John Grist recently visited this park and took some rather eerie shots. As it turned out, for 10 years of its life, the park could not gain popularity, and in 2004 it was closed. Ten years later, most of the equipment was removed from it, leaving only large buildings, which during all this time began to look frankly unimportant.

The park has been in operation for less than 10 years. Photo: Michael John Grist Remaining church. Photo: Michael John Grist

At one time, the central buildings in the park were the church and the hotel. The church has survived to this day: blue domes, frescoes inside and outside. It was built in the image of the Nativity Cathedral in Suzdal. But the hotel looks completely unpresentable - almost everything inside is burnt out.

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A surviving fresco from a church in the park. Photo: Michael John Grist The church in the park was built in the image of the cathedral in Suzdal The Nativity Cathedral in Suzdal

One of Michael's photographs shows a map of the park. So, there were indicated directions to the theater, restaurants, attractions, gift shop and even to the golf course. None of this has survived to this day. Michael found - all of a sudden - a mammoth sculpture - that's all.

Amusement park map. Photo: Michael John Grist Mammoth in a theme park about Russia. Photo: Michael John Grist

In an abandoned park administration building, Michael found a large Niigata poster, either with plans for the future of a theme park, or with a new attraction - with golden fountains, a red Kremlin wall, churches with golden domes. However, reality made its own adjustments to the plans of the creators - visitors were simply not interested in coming to this theme park. It's hard to say what caused this - either a bad marketing program, or a lack of advertising at all, or the park itself provided an insufficiently rich program, but one way or another, now it is already a ruin that cannot be restored.

Since 2004, almost nothing is left in the amusement park. Photo: Michael John Grist The park closed due to lack of public interest. Photo: Michael John Grist A poster from the park administration hall. Photo: Michael John Grist Photo of the park construction process. Photo: Michael John Grist Inside the church. Photo: Abandoned Kansai The park is completely destroyed. Photo: Abandoned Kansai A monument in the park. Photo: Abandoned Kansai Niigata Russian Village. Photo: Abandoned Kansai

We also talked about a rather scandalous case when a Japanese amusement park froze 5,000 fish in its ice rink - read about it in our articlededicated to this event.

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