Haus ten Bosu
*2003 update note* Recently, Haustenbosu has closed due to lack of repeat vistors, and thus...repeat money. This is sad because it TRULY is/was a wonderful place to visit and VERY unique in the land of the Far East. The buildings are still there, but the park itself is closed.
About an hour from Nagasaki near Sasebo, there is a unique and fascinating theme park called Haustenbosu (Huis ten Bosch). It's name is Dutch for "House in the Woods". From what I understand, it started as a biopark and eventually grew into an environmentally friendly Dutch town covering over 150 acres.
Usually, I don't like theme parks in Japan. When they are mentioned, I think of places like Beneyland here in Sendai. They are nice, but they ain't no Tokyo Disneyland. But, when I finally saw THIS place...I became VERY excited about it. Apparently, the makers wanted to recreate a Dutch town in very exacting detail. They even went so far as to incorporate actual Dutch technology to reclaim the land used in the park from the sea.
The dykes and canals use water that are constantly being renewed and replenished using computer controlled locks in combination with the ocean tides.
So what is there? Huis ten Bosch isn't so a RIDE park as it is a walk-thru village. Yes, they had canal boats and quaint busses and even taxis...but it is really a town...not a ride.
The park itself is broken up into several areas...each with its own feel.
Breukelan has windmills and a castle.
Nieuwstad has the most actual "attractions" in terms of modern shows such as a recreation of a Dutch flood right in front of your eyes as well as Escher House which tries to amaze you with some of the weird imagery of the famous Dutch artist, MC Escher
Museumstad has several museums including my favorite, The Teddy Bear Museum! This was actually MUCH better than I thought it would be and it just opened this year in 1999. It is an actual museum and is done with great care and consideration of the history of the stuffed toy. I even found a copy of my FAVORITE bear when I was a kid, Smokey! They actually HAD him on display! That's him in the front row far right!
Binnenstad is the shopping area and even had a CHEESE market where I could buy REAL cheese. It seems that many Japanese don't like cheese because the Japanese style cheese...is frankly... NO GOOD! However, when I introduce them to REAL cheese, for some reason, they tend to like it!
I bought some REAL cheese and some REAL salami. But I ate it all and now I have to go back and get more.
Utrecht is the restaurant area. It even has a 105 meter copy of the Netherlands tallest church tower, Domtoren. If you look it up, you'll find that the REAL church tower is 112 meters. But 7 meters were shaved off of this one for environmental and esthetic reasons.
From the TOP of the tower, I got a GREAT view of just how large this park is...and that's not even including the residential area which has enough living space for up to 10,000 people. But if you are thinking of buying a home here, it doesn't come cheap.
Spakenburg is the seaside area with a tall ship museum and more restaurants. I was told the Michael Jackson once stayed here too.
Paleis Huis ten Bosch is arguably the most beautiful part of the park. It has a recreation of the Dutch royal family's residence, for which the park is named. It is painstakingly recreated. Inside of the home was an art exhibit of some of the art created by a very famous Dutch artist...whose name I can't recall...but whose work is VERY popular here in Japan. His most famous character is Miffy, a rabbit cartoon character much like Hello Kitty (only better in my opinion.)
The garden in the back was a show by itself. I walked through it and I literally wanted to take pictures of every little piece.
I am looking forward to the time I can go back again. One day wasn't enough. And should you EVER think of seeing it for yourself, don't hesitate. It's well worth the trip.