Irozaki Jungle Park, Tokyo’s gigantic abandoned botanical garden.
Located in the large mountainous Izu peninsula, along the coast just a little to the west of Tokyo, this was a popular theme park that opened in 1969, but the concept aged badly in Japan’s growing consumer culture which constantly demanded the latest and greatest in entertainment and attractions. The park closed in 2003 when visitor numbers fell to a record low and all 12,000 square meters of the place has been deserted ever since.
And it seems we’ve now entered the velociraptor’s pen. Where’s the goat? Okay, I’ll stop.
At 12,000 square meters, I think that might just make it the largest abandoned botanical garden in the world. Made up of numerous greenhouses, vast and overgrown, one measures as large as 50 by 70 meters.
In a concrete jungle of 13 Million, no matter how polite, clean, fascinating and colourful it may be, there are those times that you hit a wall. Just have to get out. And breathe.
And even though the typical Japan tourist may have the feeling, looking out through the bull-hole of his Shinkansen seat, that the towns never stop all the way from Tokyo to Kyoto, there are so many beautiful spots of wild, unspoilt nature close by. Such as the Izu peninsula, a mountainous volcanic tongue sticking out into the pacific about 150km west of Tokyo. We’ve been here before in spring, when the green of the forests was speckled with the light pink and white of blooming cherry trees. And with the summer heat turning Tokyo into a 36 degree hot Sauna, it’s where I decided to take my godmother again on her recent trip to Japan. Full of secluded mountains covered by wild forests, Onsen, waterfalls and beaches it is just what a town-weary resident needs every once in a while, and a great glimpse of how beautiful Japan is, especially once you stray a little bit off the beaten track.