Abandoned Niigata Russian Village Opened on September 1st, 1993 and Closed in December 2003 For a Winter Break and Didn’t Open Again as Originally Scheduled in April 2004.

We went and photographed the Russian-themed park that was erected in the forests outside Niigata and then abandoned. The Niigata Russian Village began on September 1st, 1993, with the aid of and extensively backed by Ryutaro Omori, then head of the Niigata Chuo Bank, and was significantly enlarged in 1994. Niigata Russian Village engaged a large number of Russians to bring it to life. They erected a massive hotel, a copy of Suzdal Cathedral, several stores, and a circus in the park. The park closed for a winter vacation in December 2003 and did not reopen as planned in April 2004.

The strange environment of rural Japanese backwoods littered with matryoshka dolls and Orthodox churches appears even creepier now that it has been abandoned. Regrettably, the whole town has subsequently been damaged viciously and methodically, with very little of it remaining intact. A predicament that, needless to say, is a true pity, since it would have been a very intriguing site if left alone. This was especially true as nature began to reclaim the structures.

The park features a big church, a hotel (which has been heavily damaged by fire), various theaters, restaurants, and even a golf course. The Russian Village is divided into two sections, one at the top by the entrance, around the grand onion-domed church, and the other at the bottom, connected by a long covered walkway, the courtyard of shops and restaurants ringed by several cultural attractions and animal pens, including the show hall of the fake mammoths.

The abandoned church’s walls were decorated with religious artwork, including several angels holding swords, men haloed by light, and a few stained-glass windows with angels benignly looking down on the worshippers.

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