Utopia: Abandoned Amusement Park

2007.12.10 Uptopia Amusement Park

Like something out of a Japanese Horror movie, my friend Dean and I wandered upon an abandoned amusement park in the mountains behind Beppu.

With perfect irony, the name of this decrepit and decaying place is Utopia.

We set off last weekend taking a bus 25 min out of town to Lake Shidake and planned to walk it into Beppu (about 4 hrs) and hopefully get some nice night views of the city.

2007.12.10 Uptopia Amusement Park Map

As we wandered around the lake killing some time, our attention was grabbed by a collection of old buildings seen from the lake. The front, gated and sealed off, hits on the road to Shidake but you can’t see it’s immense expanse until you look up from the lake.

We had no idea what was in store…

The place looks like the staff literally just decided one day not to come back to work. Ever. And before leaving they opened all the windows and doors.

2007.12.10 Utopia Amusement Park

Among the buildings are the workings of all the mainstays of an amusement park. The roller coasters have been dismantled, but lots are still intact.

A large wooden “maze” area has virtually collapsed upon itself. You can still walk on much of the second level, but we thought best not.

2007.12.10 Uptopia Amusement Park Maze

A rusted metal tower about 15 meter tall gave an apprehensive walk up and a great view from the top. A heavy concrete slide winds around the outside. It look sturdy, but again decided not the best idea. Dean calls it “Helter Skelter” but I like the name “Faulty Tower.”

2007.12.10 Utopia Amusement Park Tower

My favorite part was the haunted mansion. Weirdly, Dean took several photos inside the pitch black maze but the only one that survived is below, which about sums it up. This is probably the only part of the park that has actually gotten better as the place deteriorated. All the vignettes are still intact, including someone crucified on a cross. Priceless.

2007.12.10 Uptopia Amusement Park Haunted Mansion

Game booths; roller skates; old targets, like devils (oni) to throw things at and win prizes; broken mopeds and go-carts; and token coins all littered the grounds.

2007.12.10 Uptopia Amusement Park Motorcycle

2007.12.10 Utopia Amusement Park Oni

2007.12.10 Utopia Amusement Park Dean

2007.12.10 Utopia Amusement Park Roller Skates

There was also a large three story hotel with dishes, condiments bottles, hundreds of futons, karaoke machines, photographs, broken video game machines (for example Sega, claw machine, and Hello Kitty) and a plethora of other things. Really amazing place to walk through. Some futons were pulled out giving the appearance people had slept there.

The hotel was like the stunt double for the hotel from The Shining. I fully expected to find “red rum” written on the wall as I rounded a corner (except I guess it would be “しろこ”!). If I ever have to hide out, it’s the perfect spot (unless they read my blog). Didn’t get many pics (Dean took all of these) of the hotel, but you get the idea.

2007.12.10 Uptopia Amusement Park Hotel

2007.12.10 Utopia Amusement Park Hotel

We found a page with some pics of Utopia back in its heyday. From asking around it probably shut down in about 1995. The go-cart area in the front probably operated until 2002 as indicated by posters in the track’s management building. There are a lot of abandoned parks such as this in Japan. Built in the 1980′s in some kind of boom period, too many sprang up and they couldn’t continue to be profitable. We also found mention of an old ropeway that once went from Beppu to Utopia.

Just down the road is Kijima, a bigger and better amusement park still in operation and quite a popular place. Perhaps Kijima ran it out of business?

I will go back sometime soon with my dSLR and take some proper photos. It really is a photographers dream come true.



13 Comments

  1. Brian Bircham wrote:

    wow amazing, i love theme parks. I can only imagion walking around an empty one would be the shit

  2. Robert Dudley wrote:

    wow you found my theme park!
    i was looking for it for ages

    thank you

  3. [...] Click on it to see bigger! My friend Matteo took this at the abandoned amusement park Utopia I mentioned before. Check out Matt’s photos on flickr, he has some really good shots and a nice Utopia [...]

  4. fury wrote:

    i was watching the wiz, and saw the part of the movie where they were in the abandoned theme park. so i hit up google, and came across the photos that you had. i definitiely enjoyed this post. thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Paul Davies wrote:

    Dude, if you ever go again, can I come with you?

  6. Fred wrote:

    In Italy there is a similar place, the semi-abandoned city of Consonno (near Milan):

    http://www.consonno.it/

  7. Kiki wrote:

    Hello, loved your images of utopia shidaka..do you have anymore by any chance and did you find any original pics of it when it was operating or if you could tell me where you found them that would be great!!!
    Researching abandoned theme parks for my project!!!

  8. Jenny wrote:

    Yes, if you go back, definitely take more pictures! This place looks awesome, and I’m so jealous that you got to go there.

    I’m particularly blown away by the abandoned hotel. Were there still plush in the prize catchers? Also, I request pics of the haunted house scenes!

  9. Florian wrote:

    I really wonder what the place looks today – vandalism is becoming a serious problem in Japan!

  10. Amelia wrote:

    I currently live in Japan, not too far from Oita. Could you possibly provide a map or directions? How the heck did you manage to find this place?

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  12. Yvonne wrote:

    I was in Shidaka Utopia this month (May 2013) and it looks much worse. The hotel is in a very bad shape, there are hardly any pieces of furniture left, some stuff was thrown through the windows onto the roofs, windows are smashed, there are real bats in the haunted house and so on. But it is still a very unusual and quite spooky place and I enjoyed the visit. Never seen anything like it before.
    PS Amelia, if you’re still in Oita, you can easily find the place. Shidaka Utopia is very close to Shidaka Lake. You can find Shidaka Lake in every Beppu tourist guide and once you are there ask people who work in the little restaurant by the lake for instructions.