{Japan: Explore} The Netherlands Come to Japan! An Afternoon at Huis Ten Bosch

huis ten bosch view of castle from train station

Our first view of Huis Ten Bosch from the train station.

In a Nutshell:

  • Where: Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park in Sasebo, Kyushu that recreates the Netherlands
  • When: October 28, 2013
  • *Notes: Website (English), 5900 Yen entry fee per adult (18 and over), 75 minutes outside of Nagasaki, take the JR Seaside Liner to get there (1430 Yen)

Full Report:

On a drizzly afternoon in October, M and I jumped on the JR Seaside Liner train at Nagasaki Station.  Our destination?  The 152 hectare theme park resort known as Huis Ten Bosch!  Modeled on a medieval 17th century  Dutch town, the park features canals, windmills, rides, forests, a marina, restaurants, and lavish hotels ~ all of which supposedly cost a whopping $2 billion US to build.

As the train rumbled along, we settled in to our seats and peered out the window at the views.  At first, we passed a number of small towns, all very charming with gardens, green hills, flowers, and greenhouses.  And then halfway in to our trip, we came upon the ocean and that was lovely to look at as well.

JR Seaside Liner train

inside of sea side liner

sea side liners inakas 2

sea side liners inakas

sea side liner views 1

sea side liner views 2

Roughly 75 minutes after we had boarded the Seaside Liner back in Nagasaki, the train pulled in to Huis Ten Bosch Station.  Immediately after disembarking, we were able to catch our first view of the theme park from the station’s platform.  And truly, it felt like we were no longer in Japan.  The bridge lined with streetlamps and the palatial hotel looked thoroughly European.  Unfortunately, the rain was really starting to come down and there was a bit of a nasty wind accompanying it.  So after zipping up our jackets to our chins and putting up our umbrellas we hurried over the bridge and made our way towards the front gate.  Once there, we made a beeline for the ticket booth and bought our tickets.  We chose to get the option that didn’t include any rides because I had read that they really weren’t worth the price.  We were mostly just looking forward to taking a leisurely stroll through the park and immersing ourselves in the “Netherlands”.

huis ten bosch station

hotel okura

hotel okura 2

huis ten bosch welcome gate

huis ten bosch close up of castle

As we entered the theme park, I was delighted to see windmills directly to the left of us.  The area was decorated with numerous flower beds and flanked by a sizable canal.  I wanted to go there right away but M said that maybe it was better to stay on the path we were on and finish up with the windmills.  Then we would really have something to look forward to.  I decided that his suggestion sounded sensible enough so we set out towards the forest-y looking section which was directly ahead.  As we walked towards the trees, we were greeted by an owl figurine sitting on a branch.  Then just around the corner was a group of animal figurines clustered together as if having a meeting.  There was a monkey and a pig and a fox and a bear and a few other creatures.  I just loved this!  Also in the area was a forest-themed play area complete with rope bridges and a climbing wall.


huis ten bosch owl

huis ten bosch animals

huis ten bosch jungle gym

After leaving the forest behind us, we came upon rows and rows of stores and restaurants.  Walking through this area made us realize just how large Huis Ten Bosch really was.  At this point, it started to feel less and less like a theme park and more and more like an actual city!  Because we had already eaten a large lunch back in Nagasaki we chose not to eat at any of the restaurants.  However, many of the stores had samples of chocolates and cheeses and sausages and castella and baumkuchen cake and we weren’t too full to partake in trying the majority of them.  One store had the delightful idea of posing a grandmother mannequin in its upstairs window.  She was leaning out with a plate of what looked like cake and it appeared that she was ringing a bell to invite customers in.

huis ten bosch stores

huis ten bosch houses

huis ten bosch

huis ten bosch more stores 2

huis ten bosch more stores

huis ten bosch another castle

huis ten bosch lady

huis ten bosch lady 2

From here, we headed to the area where the majority of rides and attractions seemed to be clustered.  While we didn’t have access to any of these it was still fun to look around because they were decorated for Halloween.  One thing that I found quite amusing was that many of the pumpkins had phrases on it like “Give thanks to the Lord”.  I realized that these were most likely Thanksgiving decorations!

I’m not quite sure if the attractions had been switched to Halloween themed ones to mark the occasion, but they all had scary names like “Castle of the Dead” and “Ghost Wedding”, yikes!  But the biggest yikes was right around the corner where there was a free peephole attraction.  I must admit that I scare quite easily, but I was very curious to see what lay beyond the peephole.  However, as I sidled up to it, a horrific moan came from behind the wall!  My mouth dropped open and I quickly scuttled away without a look back.

huis ten bosch halloween

huis ten bosch halloween 4

huis ten bosch halloween 2

huis ten bosch halloween 3

huis ten bosch keep out

By now, we had walked quite a bit but M said we still had another canal to see as well as the Free Zone (an area that visitors can explore without having to pay any admission price).  The canal turned out to be quite sizeable with a few boats floating along its surface.  But the best boat in the whole park turned out to be in the Free Zone ironically enough.  The One Piece Thousand Sunny ship was docked in the harbor!  Although I’ve never watched the anime, I know how immensely popular it is and am somewhat familiar with the characters and storyline.  The ship looked almost exactly like how it’s drawn on the show and manga and was really quite impressive.  Beyond the ship, was the scenic marina area with a long dock.  And behind us was an enormous hotel ~ the Watermark.

huis ten bosch canal 3

huis ten bosch 6

huis ten bosch harbor area

one piece boat

huis ten bosch one piece anime manga

huis ten bosch harbor

huis ten bosch hotel

Then it was time to head back to the windmills!  As if on cue, the clouds slowly parted and the sun emerged at last.  We were so glad to able to see the flowers and the windmills and the beautiful architecture in the light.  The whole scene was so lovely that we stayed there for a good hour just soaking in the atmosphere and taking tons of pictures.  But finally, we had to leave because it was our last night in Nagasaki and we wanted to make sure to have enough time after dinner to visit Mt. Inasa.  So with great reluctance we left Huis Ten Bosch to “return” back to Japan.

huis ten bosch windmill

huis ten bosch flowers

huis ten bosch windmill 3

huis ten bosch water

huis ten bosch 7

huis ten bosch windmill water side