Tenkaen: China Park of Heaven

The China Park of Heaven, called Tenkaen in Japanese (天華園), used to be one of the 4 major theme parks of Noboribetsu, the most famous onsen resort area of Hokkaidō.

The pagoda of the Tenkaen appeared clearly among the vegetation and could be seen from afar. We parked our car not far from the entrance.

Nobody was there and the park was only protected by some very small barrier, a few centimeters high. We knew that would be a very enjoyable and easy exploration.

The atmosphere was really realistic and reminded me of my year living in China. I was a student there but actually spent most of my time backpacking in the whole country. This park had the same fragrances as a few old towns I had visited in Yunnan: Ocher colors, worm-eaten wood.

The decay added some character to the place in a positive way and we could think that we were in a version of the Summer Palace that would have been left to the ravages of time. Everything is there, the Moon Gate, the pagoda and a kind of garden with many rocks. Isn’t this the Kunming Stone Forest? I finished my visit by the top of the pagoda to get a more global view of it all and I could spot many flowers in the park from up there, we could guess that it was probably another highlight of this place.

The Tenkaen, like the Gluck Kingdom, was part of the marketing plan to attract visitors to Hokkaido. Well, we can say that it worked for a few local haikyoists and foreign urban explorers.

The park was built in 1992 and closed only seven years later.


  • akazuki

    We love your pictures…Which camera are you using?

    • I am using a Nikon D800. Which camera are you using? 🙂

      • akazuki

        Thinking about a new camera…I’m using a canon s95

  • Jastiz D Jingga

    owh boy thats so beautiful,,is that place hard to reach?

  • McQueen

    Hmm, considering a trip up to Hokkaido this winter, might have to track this place down. I also shoot with a D800 and I’m hoping to go up there with a few more pieces of glass than I have now.

    • You will not struggle much to find this place 🙂 What kind of glass do you have now?

      • McQueen

        24mm F2.8D prime, 50mm F1.4D prime, and the 70-200mm F2.8 that I use. (Some older DX glass that I don’t, save the 18-105 when I reach for my old D7000) I would like to get a 24-70F2.8 and maybe one of the Tilt shift lenses as I’ve been curious to play with the effect optically as opposed to in post.

        • Nice! I have the 24-70, it’s a wonderful walk-around lens, especially when traveling. However, when I have my photo bag with me, I usually take all my lenses but the 24-70. I would be really curious to play with tilt shift lenses especially for avoiding wide-angle distortion… but not sure it worth the price for me.

  • mercedes

    Hi, I live in Sapporo. How do you get to this place? Thanks!

  • Kelvin Thomas

    Jordy, I have to ask. Do you know how such places remain intact? The pictures you take make Japan seem infinite. But even here in Texas land has limits. To me its remarkable that such beauty remains and is left untended.

    • For many reasons, normal people don’t want to visit them, they are for most of them actually scared of them (because it is ghosts or simply too gloomy). On top of that, since the rural depopulation is huge here no one will come around and buy the land or rehabilitate the place.

  • aliy

    Hi, may i know that its still here?

  • This reminds me so much of Spirited Away for some reason

  • Onyx Joanne Henneke

    Did you ring the bell? I don’t think I would have been able to resist.

  • Vt Marvin

    Is it safe to go there alone?

    • I think so. But watch out for the bears!

      • Vt Marvin

        I think that bears are sleeping already. Not in the buildings, I hope so. 😀

        I just heard that it can be danger when you go for urbex alone. You can fall somewhere or doors can close in old war bunker. This place seems to be safe. I am asking just to be sure. Thank you. 🙂

  • Amy Stevens

    Where exactly is this place on a map? I’m hoping to go in the next few days to check it out in all the snow.

  • Thisis Menchi

    I went to see this place today and it is no longer there. The whole place has been leveled, with piles of rocks scattering the area. I took some pictures anyways and explored what I could. At one point I went to a rubble pile near the middle because I wanted to take a pano-shot of the entire area. Upon climbing to the top I saw some surveyors had come while I was exploring. I climbed down and managed to evade them, but that was all for my exploration.

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