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New investors sought for Japanese theme park Huis ten Bosch

Owners declared bankruptcy

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

NAGASAKI, Japan - Huis ten Bosch, a theme park consisting of a replica 17th century Dutch city, has been declared insolvent. The park, which in 2001 attracted some 3.5 million visitors is faced with a $1.58 billion debt in a long stagnating Japanese economy. The huge venue - it is twice the size of Tokyo’s Disneyland - remains open to the public, but is seeking new, possibly foreign investors.

Opened in 1992, the park has four hotels, some 40 restaurants and 65 shops. Its attraction came in large part from the authenticity of the ‘city,’ and especially that of the full scale replica of The Hague palace Huis ten Bosch, the residence of Queen Beatrix. The interior of the theme park’s palace was painstakingly copied from the original. Even the bricks for the building were imported from the Netherlands.

Because of a dwindling attendance since 1996 when 4.25 million people visited the park, one of the largest lenders intervened in the operation of the theme park. But when the Industrial Bank of Japan was absorbed by the Mizuho Financial Group, new demands were made with regards to the repayment of loans. Despite the bank’s earlier write-down of $400 million, Mizuho still is holding $800 million in debentures.


The financial problems in Japan and the downturn of the national economy already resulted in the closure of nearby Holland Village, also a collection of replica Dutch buildings. The city of Nagasaki has centuries-old ties with the Dutch, who in the 16th century were the first foreigners allowed to trade with the Japanese from a post on the nearby artificial island of Deshima.

Part of the problems for these two and other theme parks (and for the entire tourist industry in Japan) is the fact that foreign trips and travel have become cheaper than visits and stays in Japan’s own tourist locations. That in itself also lowered the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan. Many theme parks were built in the early 1990s when the Japanese economy still was considered to be strong. Since then, attendance has failed to meet (unrealistic) expectations, while the value of real estate dropped dramatically, making it impossible for theme park operators to attract buyers for high-priced homes built adjacent to these parks.