This Japanese amusement park is based on a Hong Kong slum
THERE WAS A PLACE in Hong Kong that was widely featured in documentaries, movies, books, and games. And not because it was a shiny city in which its thriving economy is a beacon that guiding its citizens to success.
No, not at all. In fact, it was a slum, and the worst of its kind.
Originally a Chinese military fort, Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City became an enclave after the New Territories were leased to Britain by China in 1898.
It was the only part of Hong Kong that China was unwilling to cede to the British.
Following the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II, its population increased dramatically with numerous squatters moving in. At one point, there were 33,000 families and businesses (about 55,000 people) living in more than 300 interconnected high-rise buildings.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, Kowloon Walled City was controlled by local triads.
It was truly notorious, packed with opium parlors, whorehouses, gambling dens run by triads, unlicensed doctors and dentists, and dingy alleys crawling with rats and dripping with sewage. One that even the police, health inspectors, and tax collectors feared to tread.
In Cantonese, it was known as the City of Darkness.
In March 1993, it was demolished, officially ending the chapter of Hong Kong’s colonial past. It may have been home to thousands of people, but it is remembered as a lawless twilight zone.
Perhaps the story caught the attention of one Taishiro Hoshino, an art director with experience in Japan’s kabuki theaters.
The designer went ahead to an amusement game park in Kawasaki, Japan, named “Anata No Warehouse” (“Your Warehouse” in English).
The arcade facility was designed and decorated by the founder himself, and it looks like a more Cyberpunk-ish version of the Kowloon Walled City. It is “old”, “semi-dilapidated”, and vaguely creepy.
Hoshino recreated two stories of the walled city’s facade, complete with neon lights, decrepit signs and torn posters, open-fronted barbecued meat stalls, rusty letter boxes hung on grilled doors, narrow corridors, and even the grimy windows of whorehouses.
Take an elevator upstairs and peek inside one of the windows and you may just see a (plastic) prostitute waiting on her back.
His obsession with details was so great that he even imported trash from Hong Kong to complete the “look.” Even the wires and pipes were on point.
What the warehouse is, in reality, is a five-story video game arcade and pool hall. It houses several activities such as UFO catchers, darts, billiards, ping pong, arcade racing games, and more.
If you happen to be in the area, the warehouse is worth visiting. If not for gaming then perhaps for Instagramming.
The building is located a five-minute walk from Kawasaki Station.
For more information, visit its website.