Huis Ten Bosch – Sasebo, Japan - Atlas Obscura
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Sasebo, Japan

Huis Ten Bosch

Historical Japanese-Dutch relations are honored with haunted rides and flower fields in this replica town. 

In the 1600’s, while almost all of Japan was closed to outsiders, only the port at Nagasaki would even entertain foreign relations, and it was here that the Dutch ship “De Liefde” (The Love) began the relationship that would one day spawn the Huis Ten Bosch theme park.

Despite Edo Japan’s isolationist “sakoku” policies, the Dutch traders spent decades gaining the trust of the Japanese, resulting in the exclusive right to trade with Japan from the artificial island of Dejima in the bay of Nagasaki. Provided the Dutch traders never attempted to leave their island to trade on the main island. The following two centuries of trade would make Nagasaki one of the prosperous regions in Japan at the time.

This unique and prosperous relationship lives on today in Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park made to look like a Dutch city. Literally meaning “House in the Forest,” Huis ten Bosch took five years to construct and is as large as the city of Monaco. Despite looking like a full-scale 17th century Dutch village, the park features a number of strangely out of place attractions such as haunted house rides, cruises on a popular anime vessel, and more appropriately a theatre that lets viewers experience the historic floods of the Netherlands.

The stranger attractions aside, the park prides itself on its flower fields which feature over 300,000 flowers presented in rows that resemble the Dutch tulip fields. In addition to its focus on natural beauty, the park is notably environmentally friendly. Not only is the site built over a landfill, but there are systems in place that process all waste water and garbage into compost to use on their flower fields. In fact of one-third of the initial building costs were devoted to environmental improvements.

Japan is full of historical attractions, but Huis Ten Bosch is definitely the only environmentally conscious 17th century Dutch village replica featuring both historical sites and popular culture rides to feature acres of authentic flower fields. So far.