Akasuka, Tokyo, Japan
Surprise! It's one more update before we ring in the new year, and today, we start expanding our theme park content outside of Southern California, overlapping our travel content, in an effort to provide more information for potential world travelers and also return Westcoaster to its former park photo catalog glory. Also, that horrific Emoji Movie article was at the top of the front page for way too freaking long.
Our destination today is Hanayashiki Amusement Park, the oldest such establishment in all of Japan and also home to one of the world's oldest steel roller coasters (a ride fittingly named "Roller Coaster"). Located literally right next to Sensō-ji Temple, in the Akasuka (pronounced "Ah-kas-kah") neighborhood of Tokyo, this amusement park first opened in 1853 as a flower park and pleasure garden. Over the years, it accumulated animal displays, movie displays, and ride attractions, and today, it is a beloved amusement park that carries a sizeable amount of history. It's also extremely compact, like one of those Roller Coaster Tycoon scenarios that forced players to build rides on top of other rides and weave various tracks over and around each other. You'll see that clearly from the photos in this post, which come from a combination of my trips to Tokyo last year and this year.
Hanayashiki Amusement Park requires a general admission plus the purchase of ride tickets of guests who enter wish to board any attractions. As of this writing, attraction tickets generally ranged from 2-5 tickets in amount, though there is also an unlimited attractions pass available.
For many roller coaster nerds, the star and primary reason for visiting Hanayashiki is its 1953 roller coaster, Roller Coaster, which is one of the oldest steel track roller coasters in the world (just a year younger than the oldest operating originally-steel tracked roller coaster in the world--Little Dipper at Brooklyn, Ohio's Memphis Kiddie Park--and noticeably less tame). Although many view the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland Park as the oldest steel roller coaster, it is actually the world's oldest tubular steel roller coaster. Older steel track coasters like Hanayashiki's utilize flat barred track which was less flexible and less smooth of a ride. Still, it's pretty cool to ride a piece of history (and get a unique coaster credit), and the park's main attraction can still attract significant crowds on busy days--the tune of hour-long waits sometimes!
Beyond Roller Coaster, Hanayashiki offers a plethora of other rides that appeal to guests of all ages. Many of the attractions are very child-friendly, such as Sky Ship and Helicopter, which provide slow-moving elevated views above the park, as well as Kiddy Taxi, Kiddy Ferris Wheel, and the park's Merry-Go-Round. Others, like Space Shot and Disk'O', satisfy thrill seekers. There is also an assortment of odder rides, such as Thriller Car--a sort of tracked ghost house tour of the macabre--and the infamously renown Panda Car coin-operated attraction.
For years, another one of the park's signature attractions was Bee Tower, but this year, a construction area stands where the iconic ride once stood.
Lastly, for those who eschew rides, there are some small but charming park and garden areas, such as the Bridge of Happiness and Sky Plaza with access to the Shounkaku Shrine (and some nice even more elevated views of the park and surrounding neighborhood.
Hanayashiki is a place that seems to really echo the spirit of charming and bizarre Japan. From its tagline--"the old park with a smile"--to its almost helter skelter construction and layering, there's certainly no lack of intriguing features for guests to enjoy. Hanayashiki can last visitors as long as they choose--an hour max just to take in the ambiance and board a ride or two, or several hours to ride all or most of what the park has to offer. So if you ever find yourself in Tokyo, consider stopping by this most intriguing amusement park!
HANAYASHIKI AT A GLANCE
- Name: Asakusa Hanayashiki Amusement Park
- Address: 2 Chome-28-1 Asakusa, 台東区 Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
- Web Site: http://www.hanayashiki.net/e/index.html
- Admission: ¥1000 (adults 13-64 yrs), ¥500 (children 7-12 yrs, seniors 65+ yrs), FREE (children 6 yrs & under, disabled guests)
- Hours: 10:00am - 6:00pm daily (subject to change)
- Metro Stop(s): Akasuka Station (serves Toei Akasuka Line, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tobu Skytree Line)
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.