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.


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