Dragon Quest Island Theme Park to Open Next Spring
One of Japan’s longest running role-playing video games, Dragon Quest, will soon expand from the virtual world to a physical setting within the Nijigen-no-Mori theme park on Awaji Island near Kobe and Osaka.
Since it was first released in 1986, the video game Dragon Quest essentially gave birth to the Japanese role-playing game genre (known in the biz simply as “JRPG”). This popular video game developed by Yuji Hori is still racking up impressive sales. For the first time, its fans will soon have a physical destination to experience the character Luminary and their other heroes in the flesh.
On December 10 Hori published a short tweet informing his fans that the Dragon Quest attraction would open in the spring at the Niji-no-Mori theme park on Awaji Island near Kobe and Osaka.
It did not take long for Dragon Quest fans to react to this bombshell announcement. The response has been overwhelmingly positive on Twitter.
In a trending tweet, [email protected] wrote, “I am absolutely, definitely going! Let’s hope that the pandemic will be over soon. Each person should take care to remain healthy in the meantime. ‘Take care of life’ and then, ‘let’s go all-out!’”
Hori’s message has inspired many parents to plan a visit to Dragon Quest Island with their children just as soon as the coronavirus is slain. Momo_shachi from Nagoya pledged with a double exclamation mark to take her son to the new park as soon as possible post-Covid. This die-hard fan added that she embedded the Chinese character for courage, “yu” in Japanese, into her son’s name in honor of the heroes from the game. Momo_shachi finished off her tweet back to Hori that “Life is role-playing.”
Another fan who seems particularly eager to visit Dragon Quest Island, Hachiken48, responded directly to Hori, “I’ve played a lot of games, but the real world attraction is the best! Thank you!”
Lately, Hori’s fans have been enjoying a slew of good news. On December 23, the long-awaited version 5.4 of Dragon Quest X was released. The official Dragon Quest Twitter account teased at midnight on December 22 that “the character Irushia holds the key to the resurrection of the goddess, and great trials await her.”
While Irushia’s fans now have all winter to explore the significant update to the game, this spring, they will be able to visit their favorite characters in person by visiting Awaji Island in between Osaka and Shikoku.
New Home within Nijigen-no-Mori
Housed within the “Nijigen-no-Mori” (“two-dimensional forest”) Park, the new Dragon Quest village will join the existing attractions for Naruto, Crayon Shin-chan, and Godzilla. The official site for Njigen-no-Mori promises that fans “will be able to become their favorite main character and explore the outdoor attraction which will be a fusion of both the real and digital world of Dragon Quest.”
The attraction will open with original characters and monsters, including one called “Homirot.” This new character is, reportedly, “longing to find a brave man and will advise you in battles” as you explore Dragon Quest Island. There will also be original meals served on the island.
While more information about the new real-world Dragon Quest is expected shortly, for the time being, there is still plenty to see at Nijigen-no-Mori. 100% owned by Japan’s Pasona Group, this series of theme parks has lately been evolving steadily into one of the biggest anime-focused attractions in the country.
Zip Line into Godzilla’s Mouth
Just in case you have a craving for even more, since the October of 2020, the “Godzilla Interception Operation Awaji” started with a “life-size” Godzilla. While there is a Godzilla museum and movie theater to see this iconic figure on the silver screen, why not try zip-lining directly into Godzilla’s cavernous mouth!
If you want to find out more details about the Godzilla Museum, click the link below to read our full-article:
Naruto & Boruto
With over 700 chapters published between 1999 and 2014, Naruto is one of Japan’s best-known anime series. Its successor, Boruto (“Naruto Next Generations”), which is still in the publication, has also been successful. Since its opening in the spring of 2019, it has been possible to interact with all of your favorite characters from both series at the Naruto & Boruto Shinobi Zato or ninja village.
Here you can enjoy the great outdoors with two long zip lines during the day while trying to evade an attack with a huge water gun by the Black Mekemeke team! The longer 225m zip line is also open at night. You can find all 54 of your favorite characters from Crayon Shin-chan’s world among the wooded property.
Nijigen-no-Mori is actually free to enter, but tickets must be purchased separately for each attraction. The Godzilla section costs 3,800 JPY for adults and 800 JPY for kids. The Naruto area is a little pricier. The Crayon Shin-chan park is even more expensive.
Nijigen-no-Mori is located in the northern part of Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture. It is near Kobe and less than an hour drive from Osaka. This island in Japan’s Inland Sea is connected to Kobe by the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge. By the way, it is no accident that Awaji Island was selected as the real-world home of Dragon Quest. This also happens to be where anime legend Hori was born.
While it is easier to drive, you can also get to the park by a combination of trains and a ferry. From Akashi Station walk for about ten minutes to Akashiko Port, where you can board a ferry on the Jenova Line. It is a short 13-minute ride to the Port of Iwayako on Awaji Island. From that point, there is a free shuttle bus to the park, which only takes a few minutes.
There is also long-distance bus service from Kansai International Airport (“Kanku” in Japanese) as well as from various locations in Kobe and Osaka.
As you can now appreciate, it may be best to plan to visit Nijigen-no-Mori over and over again to make certain that you have enough time to see everything. Soon you will be able to jump from the digital world to the real world to set out on your own Dragon Quest. Good luck!
Mark Kennedy is a native of Chicago who has spent more than 20 years living, studying, and working in Japan. By day he is Country Head - Business Development, Nexdigm - Japan but becomes a writer after work. Mark is a lifelong student of the Japanese language and culture. He loves to travel throughout the country. Mark also is the author behind the "Real Gaijin" Substack, countryroadsjapan.com, as well as the Country Roads Japan and Coastal Sailing Japan YouTube channels. Photo supplied courtesy of the author who had stopped to check out the free-roaming horses and cows about half-way up to the summit of Mt. Aso, an active volcano in the center of Kyushu.