1. Godzilla theme park
    Photo: Pasona GroupNijigen no Mori Godzilla attraction
  2. Tokyo Disneyland
    Photo: Muhammad Faiz Zulkeflee/Unsplash An undated stock photo of Tokyo Disneyland

11 most exhilarating and unique theme parks in Japan

Tokyo Disneyland is just the start – Japan is full of old-school amusement parks, record-breaking thrill rides and more

Youka Nagase
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Youka Nagase
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Nowhere does theme parks quite like Japan. It’s not the birthplace of Disney, but Tokyo Disneyland and its Japan-only sibling DisneySea are just as immersive and enchanting as the original park in California. Then there’s Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan, home to the incredible Super Nintendo World.

But those big name theme parks are just the beginning – Japan is home to plenty of record-breaking roller coasters, historical amusement parks and uniquely themed spots. Here are the best theme parks you should visit in Japan. 

RECOMMENDED: These stunning spots in Japan don't look like Japan at all

Best theme parks in Japan

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  • Maihama

Tokyo Disney Resort in Urayasu opened in 1983 on a huge tract of land on Tokyo Bay. It’s the first Disneyland ever built outside of the US and is modelled after both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida.

It features seven themed areas: World Bazaar, Tomorrowland, Toontown, Fantasyland, Critter Country, Westernland and Adventureland, offering 39 thrilling attractions and rides. Look out for the big Beauty and the Beast area in Fantasyland, which opened in 2020 and is exclusive to Tokyo Disneyland.

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  • Maihama

Tokyo DisneySea is a theme park focussed on Disney’s water and ice-related tales and opened beside Tokyo Disneyland in 2001. The only park of its kind in the world, DisneySea is a must-visit spot. It’s separated into seven themed areas featuring a large erupting volcano at the centre.

A walk through the Mediterranean Harbor will remind you of Italy with its Venetian Gondola rides and colourful houses, while the Arabian Coast will transport you to the world of Aladdin. There’s even the Mermaid Lagoon, home of King Triton and other characters of The Little Mermaid. And in 2024, the park is set for its biggest expansion ever, with a new area dedicated to Frozen, Tangled and Peter Pan.

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This theme park in Osaka was the first Universal Studios park to open outside the US in 2001, bringing many of the beloved rides from the original location, like Jurassic Park, Jaws and Terminator 3D. Since then, it’s added plenty more cool stuff, including the sensational Super Nintendo World, which brings to life many iconic Mario video game features.

You can meet Mario and Luigi, ride a real-life Mario Kart, collect coins by punching question mark blocks, and even defeat Bowser Jr. By 2024, it’s expected to expand with a Donkey Kong-themed area that’s 1.7 times bigger than Super Nintendo World. 

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Since opening on November 1 2022, Ghibli Park has become an absolute must visit for fans of the illustrious anime house. Unlike most theme parks, there aren't any rides here – instead, the park is designed to make you feel like you’re part of your favourite Ghibli movies. 

Ghibli Park is currently divided into three areas: Hill of Youth, Ghibli’s Large Warehouse and Dondoko Forest, with two more areas – Mononoke’s Village and Valley of Witches – set to open on November 1, 2023 and March 16, 2024 respectively. Expect to see faithful recreations of famous Studio Ghibli movie scenes, a giant Totoro statue you can climb inside and much more. Read our ultimate guide to Ghibli Park to get the full lowdown.

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One of Tokyo’s oldest amusement parks, Toshimaen closed its doors after 94 years. But all is not lost. The site is now home to the world’s largest Harry Potter theme park, known as Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo.

The attraction is modelled after the original Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London, where you walk through iconic sets from the films, such as the Great Hall, Diagon Alley and The Ministry of Magic. You can even sip butter beer in front of the Dursley’s house, plus get up close and personal with faithful replicas of props and costumes.

Nijigen no Mori

Nijigen no Mori on Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture is a theme park for anime lovers. You can live out your ninja fantasies at Naruto-themed attractions where you have to make it through a maze filled with obstacles, and complete missions around the park that are written on a scroll. For younger fans, there’s even an outdoor adventure park dedicated to the children’s anime Crayon Shinchan, while gamers can dive into an immersive Dragon Quest attraction. 

But the highlight of the park is the incredible 162m-long zipline course that propels you straight into the mouth of a life-size statue of Godzilla. Fans of the big reptile can also enjoy a museum filled with figurines, props and costumes from the long-running movie series, and watch a film made exclusively for the Godzilla attraction at the on-site theatre, too.

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Looking for the most extreme rides in Japan? Fuji Q Highland has you covered with thrilling attractions that have broken Guinness World Records. The Fujiyama was the world’s tallest roller coaster when it opened in 1996 and it’s still in the top ten today, taking you up 71.5m above ground. The Takabisha, on the other hand, is famous for its steep freefall section which sees you hurtling down at an extreme 121-degree angle.

It’s not all death-defying coasters, though – Fuji Q Highland also has child-friendly attractions in areas themed after Thomas the Tank Engine, French animation Lisa and Gaspard, and Japanese anime Naruto.

Huis Ten Bosch

Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki prefecture claims to be Japan’s biggest theme park, taking up an area roughly the size of Monaco. A true only-in-Japan experience, Huis Ten Bosch is designed to look like a traditional Dutch town. As soon as you step inside, you’ll be transported to the Netherlands, with cobblestone streets and a canal that flows through the park. It’s a great place to visit year-round, featuring a spectacular flower festival with a million tulips during the spring, indoor and outdoor pools in the summer, Halloween festivities for autumn and one of Japan’s best illuminations during the winter. 

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  • Yokohama

This amusement park is an ideal spot for kids and features two main areas – Pleasure Land and Aqua Resorts. There is no entrance fee, so you can pay as you go for each attraction you visit, or pick up an all-inclusive ticket. The Aqua Museum aquarium in the Aqua Resorts area is worth a visit itself for the 120,000 sea creatures living there. You’ll find 700 different species ranging from dolphins and sharks to penguins and even polar bears.

On the other hand, Pleasure Island is a more typical amusement park with the thrilling Surf Coaster Leviathan swooping out over the sea – the only roller coaster in Japan that travels over water. There's also the 90m-tall Sea Paradise Tower with a breathtaking panoramic view and plenty of kid-friendly attractions including an indoor arcade and playground. Come here in the spring to see cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Toei Kyoto Studio Park

This theme park in Kyoto is based at the Toei movie studio, with a backlot full of sets used to shoot Japanese historical epics.The studio is still used to make over 200 movies every year. The streets are lined up with traditional wooden houses with roofs made from kawara tiles, just like in Japan’s feudal era. And then, of course, there are all the staff dressed as geisha and samurai roaming around the streets to add to the ambiance. You can dress up in a costume and walk around too, and don’t forget to check out attractions like the 3D ninja maze, shuriken target throwing, trick art museum and more. To top it off, you can even rent a kimono (from ¥2,500) to wear for the full experience.

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  • Asakusa

You don’t have to leave central Tokyo to find Japan’s oldest amusement park – it’s right beside Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Hanayashiki has been in business for over 130 years and it still draws crowds with its 20 old-school attractions, including Japan’s oldest steel-track roller coaster and a haunted house. When you want a break from all the thrills, you can head over to the Maruhana Ennichi or Game Plaza to enjoy arcade games, get your palm read at the Atarumo fortune-telling street, or check out some of the unique capsule toy machines at the Capsule Toy Store.

More to see in Japan

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