It is 05:30 AM blindly I turn off my alarm. I hear the rain against the window, fuck, or maybe it is for the best? The rain is too hard to take good pictures with my camera. I hear Leslie is awake as well, but we don’t speak. I know enough and fall in no time again in a profound sleep. At 07:30 AM I wake up again, it is kind of dry. I wake up Leslie, we quickly get in our clothes, have breakfast and jump on our bicycles.
Fifteen minutes later we are standing in front of the main entrance of Nara Dreamland. Nara Dreamland is opened in 1961 but due to the opening of Disney Tokyo, visitor numbers have dropped and in 2006 the theme park has been closed. The park is abandoned for almost a decade. Recently the Chinese, who apparently want to reopen Dreamland, bought the theme park. When I was looking at pictures of the abandoned Dreamland I was sold. We really need to check this out! After research the facts are as follow: jumping the fence is forbidden by law, there is security in and around the park, if you get caught you will get a fine or worse, according to a local bar owner, you get arrested. Online stories about movement sensors, security camera’s running 24/7 and a watchtower with security have me feeling nervous since yesterday. We dawdle indecisive in front of the main entrance. Fuck, why was it raining so hard at 05:30 AM, later in the morning chances to cross security are much bigger.
face your fears ;)
A jeep stops right next to us, two Japanese women and a guy get out of the car. Their clothes and shoes are full of mud and leaves. I get the idea they have just been in Dreamland and I ask them. In poor English, with a translation app and by showing us their super cool pictures it appears they just came out of Dreamland. They tell us unfortunately what we already thought, chances to cross paths with a security is bigger now then it was earlier. They do know the best spot to jump the fence and offer to bring us there. Excited we get in the car and drive around the park to the backside. Every five meter there is a red white Japanese warning sign on the fence, I don’t want to know what is mentioned on them. We stop at a part with almost no barbed wire on the fence so it is easier to climb. Our new friends give us both a pair of black gloves. I dressed myself this morning already on purpose in black and green. Leslie puts her hood up and I tight my hair together. I try to get a good grip to the top of the fence, pull myself up and jump to the other side. Our Japanese friends give us some last minute advice ‘Good luck, be careful and stay low!’ Great tips, thanks, let’s go!
As soon as we walk in, it starts to rain even harder. Bended over we walk through the high plants. Thorns and branches stick to my jeans and I am happy with my new ‘burglar gloves’. Suddenly I’m frightened, but it is false alarm, in the thick overgrowth there is standing a lost carousel horse. The abandoned child hospital in Berlin feels like a child game compared to this huge theme park. When we get out of the dense plants and step into a more open area we run bended over from trees to bushes to hide ourselves. Whispering we discuss our next move. I have the feeling I am eleven again and pulling monkey tricks. The adrenaline rushes through my body and my heart is pounding in my throat when I see the first attraction appear.
The screwdriver used to be the main attraction of Dreamland and it still is. The high grass, the look of the rusty rollercoaster, the dark clouded sky and the risk to get caught make my hands shake. I have to shoot my picture a couple times to get it right. Leslie is standing on the lookout. The only sound I hear is raindrops falling on the leaves. Dreamland is build as a replica of World Disney which you can clearly see. There is a huge pink castle, a welcome street with coloured houses and the turning cups of Beauty and the Beast. Walking alone through an abandoned theme park that has been taken over by nature is both beautiful and creepy at the same time. Totally overgrown ticket booths, half sunken boats, empty swimming pools with grass growing on the bottoms and rusty slides. Especially the once so happy looking merry go round with flipped off paint attracts my attention. When I think I have some good shots we decide to no longer put our luck to the test and climb back over the fence. When we walk back to our bikes at the main entrance we almost immediately cross security on a bike. I am totally covered in some kind of sticky leaves and I still wear my gloves. The security stops and warns us that it is absolutely not allowed to go into Dreamland. We explain that we are only walking around the park, ‘it is a beautiful area!’ Very convincing. He gives us a stern look, warns us again and drives of. We walk further and cross a police car two minutes later. We were doubting to climb in again at another point, but we change our mind, its been enough. We laugh the nerves away, yes we did it!