“Weren’t you in Amsterdam?” at least three friends have asked me the question after a recent trip.
“No, I was in Japan,” I already knew what they meant so I’d almost instantly answer.
You couldn’t blame them, anyone taking his Instagram OOTDs with Huis Ten Bosch in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture in the background would look as if he were having a good time in The Netherlands. I did have the time of my life, but back then I was nowhere near European shores.
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A few hours off Fukuoka Airport in the southwestern area of Japan (or by boat from the Nagasaki Airport), Huis Ten Bosch is a 152-hectare property of canal houses and brick towers sprawled over a manmade ecosystem of rivers and land. (The area is so fertile that gorgeous hydrangeas have grown in a variety of 100!)
Huis Ten Bosch was originally built in 1992, modeled after 17th Century Dutch buildings. See, in Japan’s Edo period when it isolated itself from the rest of the world, Nagasaki maintained its trade ties with the Dutch. On the manmade island of Dejima, the Japanese and the Dutch were business as usual until 1853. That significant fact in history, plus the neatness and trimness of European architecture, offered inspiration for the theme park’s design. The name of the park, of course, is derived from one of the Dutch monarch's residences.
Huis Ten Bosch faced bankruptcy in 2003. It only came alive again when travel agency H.I.S. Co. took over in 2010. Now, the theme park is enjoying a fairly successful run. It's reportedly eyeing expansion in China and in other Asian countries—and so we could only wish for a Philippine franchise!
There are around 40 attractions in Huis Ten Bosch, ranging from zip lines and virtual reality shows down to a boat cruise that shows a different perspective of the entire park. Bikes are also used to roam the massive place.
Even the buildings are crowd-pleasers themselves, including a resto set in death-defying subzero, detailed horror houses, and an observatory that offers a panorama of the entire park.
Seven magnificent hotels adorn Huis Ten Bosch, staffed by, yes, I’m gonna say it, a few white people. The biggest of 'em, Hotel Europe (below), costs JPY 25,000 a night.
Catering to the international crowd (despite the huge number of travelers in their senior), Huis Ten Bosch also offers an array of different cuisines on site...
...including this popular cheesecake!
One of the major festivities in Japan, the Tulip Festival happens right at Huis Ten Bosch. Expect heaps and heaps of flowers abloom especially from latter March to early April—something I'd have to come back to for myself!
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Photographs by the author | Special thanks to