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Welcome to Huis Ten Bosch. Several train stations away from Omura, Huis Ten Bosch is one of the premiere theme parks of Japan. It is, quite literally, a Dutch village. There are many hundreds of acres of authentic nineteenth-century Dutch buildings, housing shops, hotels, museums, and, of course, rides and attractions. And... did I mention that there are authentic replica windmills??!?
Upon arrival you are greeted by the largest building on site; it's sort of like a really big, cool billboard (with windows for words). Eh, but anyways, here it is.
And here's a windmill in the background:
First, Mary and I walked through a Teddy Bear exhibition. Pictured below is the world's largest teddy bear.
Question - which one do you want to hug more?
Pictured above is the inside of a windmill. Windmills help to drain water into ditches to help avoid flooding.
A working draw bridge... cool.
Mary and I entered the first of many food stores. The first one was solely for cheese, and there were MANY samples. Needless to say, I had seconds and thirds.
The first attraction Mary and I rode was a 3D M. C. Escher-based adventure. Escher is the artist known for creating paintings with altered dimensions (such as the stairs that rise in every direction) and for the interlocking positive and negative images. This was our favorite part of the park.
Then, the two of us walked through the Trick Art building (after wandering through the candy and chocolate stores, of course). Tell me if you see anything fishy here...
Next was another one of our favorites, a video about the creation of the earth and moon. However, this was no mere video; it was 180 degrees around us as well as shown on the ceiling. After that, Mary and I went to see horseland, and there was the cutest pony there.
Trick art, or is one clog bigger than the other?
See that tower? It is 105 meters tall. We would go up twice, once in the afternoon, and again for a spectacular laser and fireworks show. But before then, Mary and I explored many shops, including a large bazaar. Then, we went into a blown glass exhibit. Apparently, this region was the first in Japan to produce glass products. There were beautiful vases of blue and red and green along with a wide assortment of other transparent and opaque objects.
Here are photos from the tower (by the way, 105 meters is equal to 344 feet... the UT tower is only 307 feet tall).
Here is a replica Dutch trading vessel:
In the museum section of the park (also known as intellectual entertainment) we saw a real working carillon (a mechanical setup that plays bells and is controlled either by a keyboard setup or automatically).
Then, we got to experience a myriad of mechanically-produced music boxes. These ranged from small to large, and from classical to carnival. And, they were played by fairies, of course. As evening arrived, we squeezed in one more attraction, a phenomenal Chinese acrobatic act.
The night was both good and bad. The good was that everything lit up (from the buildings to the windmills to the firework show). The bad was that all the exhibits closed between five and six, and the fireworks weren't until 7:45 (that's 19:45 in Japan, by the way). But, we filled the time in between with a nice dinner (we split a pizza at an Italian-themed restaurant) and an even nicer stroll through the lighted buildings.
Now, for the grand finale: