In the rural Japanese countryside on the coast of the Mie Prefecture hides a quirky ode to Spain. Called Shima Spain Village, or Parque España, this complete themed entertainment experience mixes faithful recreations of actual castles, statues, and Spanish landmarks with whimsical rides, parades, and a unique cast of original animal characters.
If you can’t make it the 7,000 miles from Japan to Europe, Parque España’s Santa Cruz Street looks like a scenic walk through Spain’s Andalusia, and the monolithic Javier Castle Museum is a recreation of an actual 10th-century castle of the same name. This dazzling castle is filled with floors of Spanish history on the inside, and a rooftop deck gives magnificent views of the bay.
When visitors have their fill of artifacts and traditional costumes, the other side of the park is a sampling of roller coasters, a Don Quixote dark ride that diverges wildly from the book, and one truly strange Alice in Wonderland walk-through experience. Most buildings have little signage, so visitors can be surprised and likely delighted each time they enter an attraction.
Although this theme park is relatively unknown to foreigners, and not as large or high budget as Universal Studios or Tokyo Disney, it is unique, at times silly, and absolutely worth a visit.
Know Before You Go
The park is open everyday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but is closed for select holidays which are posted on their website. An adult full day pass is 5,400 yen, but there are discounts for children, seniors, and part-day visitors.