Just a few kilometers from beautiful Nikko, with its serene Tôshôgû shrine lies a sight of a very different kind. Opened in 1973, the “Western Village” was a theme park inspired by classic American and Italian Western movies, as well as the 1973 sci-fi/Western Westworld starring Yul Brynner, which features a menacing host of malfunctioning robots attacking a group of unsuspecting tourists.
While the park must have been quite an unusual sight as long as it was officially open to visitors, after its closure in 2007 the unreality of the place has increased tenfold. Nowadays the place is a Mecca for Haikyo (urban explorers) from Japan and all over the world, who delight in immersing themselves in the surreal and uncanny surroundings.
Apart from a classic Main Street straight out of a John Ford picture, the place features a replica of Mount Rushmore, a general store, barbershop, church, sheriff’s station with prison as well as a saloon chock-full of villainous characters, which used to be a shooting range. As if the setting wouldn’t be eerie enough, it is made even more unreal by the big number of robots, which populate every corner of the park, seemingly poised to break into movement every second. Apart from typical movie-trope characters, these include figures with the features of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.
Due to its location in the peaceful little suburb of Shin-Takatoku, which itself seems to be stuck in time, it is unlikely that developers move in any time soon, hopefully giving urban explorers the opportunity to examine this unusual sight for many years to come.
Know Before You Go
The suburb of Shin-Takatoku can be reached by train from Nikko Central Station in mere minutes. While the front of the park has been boarded up, there are several entrances from the riverside at the back, giving explorers the opportunity to just wander on the premises. Should the accessibility change in the future, please respect the law as well as your own safety and admire the place from the outside.