• SHARE

Many residents of Tokyo have endured a difficult summer in 2020. If beach closures and postponed vacations weren’t hard enough to swallow, the capital also lost one of its most-loved recreational facilities: Toshimaen.

The beloved amusement park closed down on Aug. 31, having been in business for a staggering 94 years.

News of Toshimaen’s closure went viral on social media back in February when the announcement was first made, resurfacing again in July when the park opened its gates for its final summer season after restrictions on recreational activities in the capital were lifted.

On Twitter, people mourned the park’s closure. “I have a lot of memories of Toshimaen,” one user said.

On Aug. 30, families visited the park for one last time, never mind that the waiting times for popular rides such as the Carousel Eldorado were as much as three hours, and under a blazing hot sun. The Carousel Eldorado, by the way, is one of the oldest existing carousels in the world, being designated as a piece of mechanical engineering heritage in 2010.

At 8 p.m. on Aug. 30, fireworks lit up the sky above the park as visitors said their final farewells and more than a few of them had tears in their eyes. The park closed for the final time the following day.

What’s next for Toshimaen’s 22-hectare grounds? Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc. has been negotiating with Toshimaen since February, and a Harry Potter theme park is slated to open in 2023, along with a public evacuation space that had been on the table since 2012. So far, the reaction on social media hasn’t exactly been gushing.

The owners of Toshimaen haven’t revealed the reason behind the park’s closure, although there has been plenty of conjecture on social media. Toshimaen had weathered many crises in its nearly 100-year history, including bankruptcies, ownership changes, World War II and the Great East Japan Earthquake, but many believe that three factors ultimately hastened the park’s decline.

Last year, an 8-year-old girl drowned in the park’s famed ‘flowing pool’ when she became trapped under some floating buoys.

The park has also suffered a massive decline in revenue. Back in the 1990s, more than 4 million people visited Toshimaen every year, but that number had shrunk to just 1.2 million in 2018. Toshimaen’s fiscal net income last year was revealed to be a little over ¥520,000, which is barely breaking even.

Finally, the park’s 80-day temporary closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic sealed its fate.

Article first published in The Japan Times on Sept. 5.

Warm up

One minute chat about summer leisure.

Game

Collect words related to summer vacation, e.g., beach, travel, homework, etc.

New words

1) viral: to circulate widely, and rapidly, on the internet, e.g, “His speech went viral and he became famous.”

2) mourn: grieve for a loss, e.g., “Fans mourned the singer’s death.”

3) heritage: something acquired by a predecessor, e.g., “Canada’s cultural heritage comes in part from France.”

Guess the headline

Toshimaen f_ _s bid final fa_ _ _ _ _ls to a 94-year-old Tokyo institution

Questions

1) When was Toshimaen’s closure first announced?

2) What reasons have been given for its closure?

3) What will be built after it is gone?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think about the closure of Toshimaen?

2) Are there any places that have closed that you miss?

3) How do you think the land should be used after the park is torn down?

Reference

地域密着型のテーマパークの閉鎖は、時を経るごとに増え、東京都内の大型施設として一時期は盛況を見せたとしまえんも閉園を迎えることとなりました。長く愛されてきたとしまえんの閉園を残念に思う人は多くいるかもしれませんが、この広大な敷地がより地元住民に愛される場所に生まれ変わる可能性もあります。

新しい時代の街づくりにはどのような施設が望まれ、どのような街のありかたがふさわしいのでしょうか。朝英語の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)