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Spain Mura

Community Highlights Asia Spain Mura

So, it's quite a regular occurrence that when I come to work in the morning various papers have been left on my desk since I was last sitting there. This may be school related information, community activity fliers or quite often travel offers from various agents who pop into the school. Most of this stuff gets filed under 'B' for 'Bin' - but every so often something worthwhile turns up, such as a special offer for discount tickets to Spain Mura (the Spanish village).

Intrigued by the idea of a whole theme park dedicated to the promotion of Spanish culture, and tempted by the hefty discount combined with the promise of more roller-coasters, I snapped up a couple of tickets. So it was that we found ourselves driving down to the Shima-peninsula in Mie Ken not long after.

As Mie ken isn't too far away the plan was short and sweet, drive down the day before stay overnight in hotel, get in the park early the next day and drive back that evening. When we arrived in Mie Ken we had a bit of free time for some sight seeing on the first day as well, which we spent at a frog based Shinto shrine be the coast... well, why not! When the amphibians take over you'll wish you'd prayed there too.

Actually, this isn't really intended as an appeal to our future overlords. The real reason, why many Shinto shrines have frog statues, is that the Japanese words for frog is 'kareru', which is a homonym for the Japanese word meaning 'to return, to come back'. So it symbolizes the wish for something or someone to return to you.

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The next morning, as planned, we hit the park in time to get in when the gates opened, and we were immediately struck by how closely they have cleaved to the classic theme park model (as you can see in places like Disney Land or Universal Studios).

The gates open on to a covered walkway, lined with various shops. The park has it's own cast of cartoon characters, based on an animated version of Don Quixote, who are there to meet and greet you (well, maybe not us - we couldn't get near them for all those pesky kids). Then from there you come out in a kind of hub area that links two or three themed zones. Not that I'm knocking them for this, there's a reason this model is used so often - it simple, clear and it works.

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To their credit, the park designers had really done their best to evoke various aspects of Spain within the confines of the park. It was possible to take quite scenic pictures that didn't give off any hint that you were actually still in Japan. There was a nice town square and plaza, a whole village street complete with a church and even a full size replica of the Castillo de Xavier.

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The castle actually houses the park's Museum of Spanish culture which covers modern art (with several statues around the site) and traditional culture as well. Many of the rooms have been dressed as they would have been in the original castle. Which is probably about the only chance many Japanese people will get to experience 'real' historical Europe.

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I was particularly impressed with the kitchens, and the intricate tiles that lined the walls there. Not regular patterned tiles, but each one hand made, unique and designed to makes a single mosaic like scene; for example, look at the detail on these cats stealing kitchen scraps.

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Other exhibits included displays with examples of Spanish crafts, traditional folk clothes and religious iconography.

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Leaving the castle and going down to the far end of the park you come to a small water themed area. Here there is a large pool with dancing fountains, a children's play area and a nice sedate boat ride attraction. There's also a replica of a Spanish galleon that you can board and explore.

It was in front of the galleon that we also found a group of Cos-players dressed as characters from the popular anime show 'One-Piece'. As the show is all about pirates they'd come here to find the perfect backdrop for their photo shoot.

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Spain Mura (like the Toei Movie Park in Kyoto), thanks to it's collection of historical buildings unlike those found elsewhere in Japan, has apparently become quite popular with Cos-players. We ran into several groups along the way, and (although I don't know any of the characters) I'm not going to pass up the chance to photos of pretty girls in cute costumes.

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In many ways Spain Mura is as pure a theme park as they come, it's theme is Spain and most of it's attractions are cultural rather than white knuckle. There are nods to the design work of Gaudi, you can eat paella on the plaza and watch flamenco shows in a custom theatre. Other things like the mirror maze and the ice house are fun, but seem incidental rather than essential. That isn't a complaint though, I actually had a lot of fun trying my hand at top juggling and made some pretty impressive high tosses and catches after a bit of practice.

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There are a few thrill rides on hand as well. There's a small log flume, and a run-away train style coaster. There's also a interesting (but not altogether successful) attempt to merge the Spanish theme with a unique indoor, bull fighting, roller coaster. Basically, as riders, you are put in the position of the bull, the track releases you down a corridor from which you emerge into an arena. The track them sweeps around under a series of red capes and menacing swords thrusting at you... I am not making this up! Well, I'm never going to be a fan of bull fighting, and I wasn't really a big fan of this ride either, not just because of the theme either - it was just too odd and the motion too jerky to really flow as a ride.

They do have one killer coaster though, a ride called 'The Pyranees'. An inverted coaster which you ride with your legs hanging freely. This is one of the smoothest coasters I have ever been on, and it's a real pleasure to ride. Also, as most visitors were either families with small kids, or people who wanted a taste of Spanish culture, there weren't too many people lining up to ride it either. We jumped on it as soon as we arrived, again in the afternoon and a third time just before we left without ever having to queue more than 15-20mins. Haru nailed a picture of us zipping past as well.

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So there you go, Spain Mura. Not a place I'd be clamouring to go to again, it was fun, but one time was enough. The discount tickets made it really good value though and I'm glad we went, plus I've checked another roller coaster off the must ride in Japan list. Next in my sights is 'The Steel Dragon' at Nagashima Spaland, which I will be visiting later this year.

This featured blog entry was written by DKJM74 from the blog Japan and Beyond with Damon and Haru.
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By DKJM74

Posted Thu, Sep 19, 2013 | Comments