Junglia, a nature-focused theme park, is in the works for northern Okinawa
Stars and Stripes January 18, 2024
A new destination park with a jungle theme is planned for northern Okinawa, not far from two Marine Corps bases and the area where U.S. Marines train for jungle warfare.
Junglia, where the attractions focus on nature, is scheduled to open in summer 2025, Japanese marketing company Katana announced in Tokyo in November. The park will take advantage of its proximity to Yambaru National Park, a subtropical forest region that’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2021.
The park will be filled with attractions such as balloon rides, zip lines and a safari experience in which guests are chased by dinosaurs, according to a Dec. 7 email from Japan Entertainment, a Katana subsidiary.
Junglia could draw attention to the main island’s forest ecosystem. Okinawa is already the most popular beach resort region in Japan, but the Yambaru region is among the areas least visited by tourists, according to a 2012 study co-sponsored by the prefectural government and the Japan Travel Bureau Foundation.
A new destination could also boost Okinawa’s tourism industry, which continues to recover its visitor numbers following the COVID-19 pandemic. About 430,000 foreign visitors stayed on the island in 2022, compared to nearly 862,000 in 2020, according to the Japan Tourism Statistics website.
The site for the approximately 150-acre theme park is a former golf course extending between Nago city and Nakijin village, about 27 miles from Camp Gonzalves, home of the Marines’ Jungle Warfare Training Center.
The theme park will extend over 150 acres with an initial investment of about $470 million in construction, according to the press release.
Junglia is designed to provide “exciting and luxurious experience” to its guests, according to Japan Entertainment. Lodging is not yet in the plans, but they do include a forest spa where the guests can enjoy the setting.
“At Yambaru, the vast world natural heritage site full of mystery and vitality, the excitement created through experiences of authentic and genuine quality that are unique to the area, unrelated to the virtual reality that is commonplace in everyday life, resonates with the energy of the vast nature and amplified to the point where it feels so good that you want to scream,” the press release states.
The project would benefit Okinawa by creating a tourist attraction in the northern part of Okinawa and creating employment for the locals, according to the marketing firm.
It is partnering with the prefecture as well as with Nago city and Nakijin village for branding and job creation effort. Building the park on a former golf course will minimized its environmental impact and the company has made several assessments on environmental impacts, it said.
The ticket price is not set yet, but the park is aiming to host many guests from all over the world and from within Okinawa as well, according to the email.