On Wednesday the 17th, I visited what is almost certainly the weirdest place in Japan. A park in the remote town of Yoro, called "The Site of Reversible Destiny" is weird in name and in appearance. It's right smack dab in the middle of Japan, so I had to take the Shinkansen to get there. This is where the story of Yoro Park begins.
The train I boarded wasn't quite as crammed as those viral videos would have you believe, but it was certainly the most full train I had boarded in my time in Japan, or in my life. I managed to take a semi-sneaky picture of the situation by planting my camera atop my head. By some stroke of luck, not one person was spiking the shot.
Unlike my stint in the Kansai area, the place I was staying in Tokyo is only one station away from a Shinkansen terminal, so it wasn't long before I was speeding along at 150 mph towards Nagoya.
|These seats looked reversible.|
Before I took the final transfer towards Yoro, I left the station and got a snack at the nearby convenient store. I opted for a carton of chocolate... drink (not chocolate milk) and a salmon onigiri roll.
|I took a liking to this chocolate drink.|
|Good luck getting something this awesome for a dollar in the US.|
The station leading to Yoro is not JR-operated, so I had to pay for it, but it was pretty standard fare (no pun intended).
As I watched out the window, I could tell that this train was dragging me clear out into the boonies.
Yoro station is... odd. I've never seen such a heavily decorated station. The town must have a real positive history with gourds, because there are gourds and pictures of gourds and statues of gourds everywhere.
There's even a display case with the town's name spelled out in gourds.
|And a spider that seems to have caught a huge beetle.|
I left the station and wandered up the street of the rather quaint neighborhood.
I kept seeing things that looked like they might be the entrance, but upon closer inspection weren't.
At last, after walking up a dubious, abandoned-looking path with grass growing from between the cracks and spider webs glistening in the trees overhead, I saw a signpost with the park's name on it.
I was shocked when I got to the end of the trail and saw this locked gate, but I breathed a great sigh of relief when I looked to the right and saw a small path into a building that almost looked like an employees-only area, but turned out to be the real entrance to the park. There was a receptionist who seemed really surprised to have somebody show up. I paid the 7 bucks to get in, and she gave me the series of pamphlets and instructions on "how to use" the park. I skimmed over them, but they were ridiculously convoluted and I couldn't be arsed to do any of the things listed.
According to a sign at the entrance, they rent out tennis shoes and helmets for free, because there are lots of slipping hazards and the like.
There are a few different structures in the park. The first one on the left when you walk in is basically a building, but the floor is wavy, with random walls that vary from ankle to chest height, depending on what part of the floor you're standing on. There was some weird classical music playing while I was there.
I took a moment to take it all in, because after reading that pamphlet, I was a bit fired up about freeing my mind.
Even the bathrooms are wonky. The floor isn't quite as wavy, but the style definitely blends right in with the rest of the building.
In one room, there's a window in the ceiling with all kinds of filth piled up on it. It kind of reminded me of a playground at the Hogle Zoo that I used to play in as a kid, with tunnels and holes where you could poke your head out and see prairie dogs playing in the dirt around you.
On the other side of the first building is a large pile of jagged rocks, with a pump faucet at the top. There is no path up to the top, you have to climb. Instead of doing so, I moved on to the next building.
|The other side of the first building.|
The building is surrounded by huge holes with trees planted at the bottom. It looks like it would be a real pain to climb out, as some of them are very deep, and many of the trees are covered in spider webs.
The inside of the building is insane, to say the least. it is a labyrinth of a mixture of curvy and sharp-angled walls, with a wavy floor that is transparent in some places, and opaque in others. There is furniture in the building, but it is clipped through the walls like you might see in a badly programmed video game.
Weaving through the maze created by the walls, beds, chairs, refrigerators and stoves, I found myself popping in and out of the building several times.
In addition to the tree holes I mentioned earlier, there are trees at ground level, but encased in giant cylinders.
The furniture in the maze isn't limited to the ground either. When I started paying attention to the ceiling, I noticed that it has just as much furniture, as if somebody had taken a floor from somewhere else and turned it over.
Leading away from the building is a path at about knee height, carved into the ground and leading up into a huge wall that surrounds the majority of the park. I decided to save that for later.
Between the first two structures, I noticed something that I had just walked by the first time. At the top of a hill, there is a large stone with trees growing from it, and the kanji from the name of the park carved in scattered locations. I saw a woodpecker in the tree there. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a woodpecker in my life besides this one. It was peckin' away at that bamboo.
Near a large, open bowl-like area of the park, there is one last "building," but this one doesn't seem as though it is designed to be accessible. There is a wall around it, with a gap large enough to where one could just crawl under, but it looked really dark inside, and I'm willing to bet there are some scary bugs who call it their home, so I decided against it. I even tried pointing my camera in there and taking some flash pictures, but there didn't seem to be anything of interest in those images,
The other side of the park is a bowl-shaped, almost intangible mess of hills, trees, walls, and mysterious half-sphere shaped objects. These are covered in Astro-Turf to resemble grassy hills, although perched in precarious places that grassy hills could never be.
I first climbed around the right side of this open "bowl," where I simply found more diagonal hills and tree-holes.
It was at this point I decided to start filming, but the video didn't come out so well. I apologize for the relative lack of quality in the next few pictures, as they are just screenshots from said video. The knee-high paths I mentioned earlier lead into the wall of the "bowl." The path itself was actually not all that interesting. If anything, it was a bit treacherous. I had to lean over to make it through a few tunnels, which had a few spider webs and bugs crawling in them.
Halfway through the journey through the path in the wall, I came to the realization that I would probably have to return the way I came. Sure enough, at the end of the tunnel is slightly widened observation point, but the view isn't all that amazing. I wasn't terribly excited to brave the tunnels again, so I tried to make it quick.
I actually encountered a couple of visitors on the way back. They were the only ones I saw during the trip. Now that I think about it, the entire town felt deserted. The people I ran into in the tunnel and the lady at the ticket office were the only humans I recall seeing the whole time I was in Yoro. It was kind of nice being so isolated, actually.
Before I ended my campaign in The Site of Reversible Destiny, I had one last place to check out. I carefully descended the steep hill into the bottom of the "bowl."
What I found down there was more of the same, but not in a bad way. The maze-ish theme of the park continued in the very bottom, this time with walls at just the perfect height to trip somebody who isn't paying attention. This area seemed a lot less traveled, with lots of weeds and even scarier bugs.
|I don't know what this is, but thank God it's dead.|
At this point, I had seen all of the park, so I said my last goodbyes to the strange, strange place.
On the way back to the station, I saw two odd outdoor restrooms. The first appeared to have both male and female markers on it, and the second was completely open to the point where you could see right in to the urinals from the sidewalk.
The way back wasn't particularly eventful, but it did include my last Shinkansen ride.
I tried once more to get a photo of Mount Fuji, but that has got to be the world's shyest mountain. Once again, it was concealed by the clouds. I couldn't even see its silhouette this time.
|Japan is very friendly to the handicapped.|
When I arrived back in Tokyo, I visited Akihabara as usual, but I had an objective. Since there were only two days left before my departure, I was able to accurately assess my finances and decide that I could afford a Japanese 3DS! I thought about getting a 3DS XL (called the LL in Japan), but it was more expensive and didn't come with a charger, which further increased the price point. Besides, none of the colors were as cool. I bought my first region-locked Japanese game at the same time, Professor Layton VS. Phoenix Wright. Come to think of it, I still need to beat it. Maybe I'll bust it out again soon.
My next post will be about Kappabashi-Dori, the kitchen street, and then there will be one more longer, thorough post about Akihabara. After that, my trip home will be all that's left to document. I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you enjoyed it, why don't you check out my other posts, or even my other blogs, just under the title at the top of the page? I promise they're not boring!