Aum Shinrikyo headquarters. Aum Shinrikyo was a doomsday cult who produced Sarin nerve gas (at a location near the park which was under construction) then launched attacks, including one on the Tokyo subways, killing 19 people. A massive force stormed the nearby headquarters to end the cult’s run.
If the the smell of chemicals used to make Sarin that still lingered for years after the Aum Shinrikyo attacks wasn’t enough to kill enthusiasm for this tourist trap,its proximity to Aokigahara probably didn’t help make things better. Aokigahara is considered Japan’s “suicide forest“, a dense woodland that is considered the 2nd most popular place on earth (behind the Golden Gate Bridge) to commit suicide. Putting Sarin gas and suicide together does not spell success for any venture designed to attract tourists to the area.
There’s something in seeing these photos of this lost place. Maybe it’s the ridiculous absurdity of it. Maybe it’s the reminder of human failings, a tribute to our follies. Or maybe it’s the idea of a place that no longer exists, as though one were looking at a ghost from the past. Maybe there’s even symbolic in the huge figure of Gulliver trapped in this ill-fated shadow of the beautiful Fuji. I don’t know. It just seems to be compelling for some reason to me.
However, don’t be sad. You can still get into that Jonathan Swift state of mind–there are a couple of Gulliver-inspired theme parks in England.