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Nestled some 70 miles north of Tokyo in the mountainous region of Tochigi lies the Western Village. The amusement park is the best attempt by Japanese entrepreneurs at mimicry of American life and culture. Unfortunately, the theme park slammed its doors shut in 2007 after tourists had had enough of the outlandish parody of their home nation.
Since then, photographers and urban explorers have breathed new life into the decrepit, ruinous Western Village. Haikyo (Japanese for “ruin”) explorers like Michael John Grist have ventured into the poorly secured theme park and snapped photographs of carnival’s anachronistic monuments. One of the big pulls for Western Village was the $27 million, one-third scale replica of Mount Rushmore which was built at the park’s zenith of success.
Today, however, the decaying sculpture and the photographs taken of it only serve as a haunting reminder that not all success stories end in happiness.