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Ashibetsu – Canadian World Park

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When the region’s coal mines closed and people began leaving to find work in other places, the people in Ashibetsu’s city government started looking for ways to attract visitors to the city and bring more money into the local economy. They decided that one of the things they needed was a theme park.

Theme parks were very popular in Japan in the 1980s and 90s. There were parks based on many countries and locations around the world – German theme parks, Dutch theme parks, British theme parks, even New Zealand theme parks. In fact, so many of them were built that it wasn’t possible for all of them to survive. A lot of them have closed since then, but there are still a few that are open for business.

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View from the main entrance and Kensington Station.

 

 

Canadian World Park in Ashibetsu opened in the summer of 1990. Based on the “Anne of Green Gables” stories, it contains an exact copy of the Green Gables house in Prince Edward Island, Canada, as well as several other buildings from the books. The park also has a train, a lavender garden, a French-Canadian village, and other Canadian-style buildings.

During the first few years that the park was open, real Canadians were hired to work there, dress as characters from the books, and entertain the visitors. The park was pretty successful for a year or two, but then the number of visitors rapidly declined, and it was forced to close.

Canadian World was reopened in 1999 as an Ashibetsu city park. Admission is free, and it is open from April to October.

Several of the buildings in the park can be rented for the summer, and they are used for things like art galleries, arts and crafts workshops, and gift shops.

(All of the photos in this post were taken between 2006 and 2009.)

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Kensington Station. There is (or was when this photo was taken) a small restaurant here. This is the main entrance to the park.

 

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View of Kensington Station and the main entrance, seen from the top of the tower in the previous two photos.

 

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Canadian village street during the Candle Art Festival. Or actually a couple hours before the festival. When I lived in Ashibetsu, they had a Candle Art Festival at the beginning of August each year. They would set up hundreds of candles to make a picture on the hillside across from the village here, then light them when the sun goes down. Usually about 5000 people would come to the park to see it.

 

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French-Canadian village seen from the other side of the pond.

 

 

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This carousel looks a little rusty, but it works and it is safe to ride on.

 

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There is a jukebox museum here.

 

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Public restroom signs, inspired by “Anne of Green Gables.”

 

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Even the garbage cans have an “Anne” theme.

 

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On this day, on the other side of the pond, they were doing a fashion photo shoot for a magazine or something.

 

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Canadian World manhole cover.

 

 

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Abandoned flower garden in one of the less-maintained parts of the park.

 

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I think there used to be an iris garden here. Or maybe not.

 

 

 

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At the opposite end of the park from the Kensington entrance is this – the Bright River entrance. As you can see, it hasn’t been used for a while.

 

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Inside the Bright River entrance, they still have a sign from the 1990s, showing the park admission prices. 2000 yen for adults, 1500 yen for junior and senior high school students, 500 yen for elementary school students and senior citizens.

 

 

 

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I don’t remember what this building is.

 

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Near the building in the previous photo. Was there water flowing through here sometime in the past?

 

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One of the buildings that can be rented for the season.

 

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I think all of these buildings are available for rent. I’ve seen them used for things like a restaurant, an artist’s workshop, and a display space for the Hokkaido Doll Photographers Association.

 

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Green Gables house.

 

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Dining room in the Green Gables house.

 

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Anne’s bedroom.

 

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Anne’s school.

 

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Farmers Station. This is where you go to get on the train.

 

 

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Farmers Station entrance.

 

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You can have your picture taken wearing one of these hats.

 

 

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The train leaving Farmers Station.

 

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Volunteers working in the lavender field.

 

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Volunteers from the city hall come here once or twice each winter to clear the snow off the roofs of the buildings.

 

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Guide map at the park entrance.

 

That concludes our tour. Canadian World is open from April to October, and admission is free. If you happen to be in the Ashibetsu area, it’s worth a visit.

 

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Written by hobara09

2018-09-22 at 5:27 pm

Posted in Ashibetsu, Hokkaido