We reported earlier this year that Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is floating the idea of opening a new theme park in Okinawa. We now know the proposed name for the new amusement park, and it has left many Japanese surprised and confused.
You see, the company plans to drop the “Universal” brand from its name, and instead the new theme park will, apparently, be called Nangoku Resort.
Nangoku translates to “Southern Country,” and the term is often used in Japanese to refer to tropical regions and islands. The new name makes sense given that the new Okinawan location is in one of the most southern parts of Japan, but netizens are confused as to why management would drop the Universal brand, which is strongly entrenched in the Japanese market and, obviously, a huge draw. Presumably, this would mean also the absence of many of Universal Studios Japan’s signature movie-themed rides.
Many people took to their keyboards questioning why the company would drop the connection to the Universal film branding.
“Will the new theme park have no relation to movies?”
“I don’t understand. Why wouldn’t they use the studio branding?”
“The Universal Studios brand is a widely known name. It will make things harder if they don’t use it.”
“This is out of character; totally unexpected. ”
“Nangoku? What kind of theme park is that?”
Admittedly, it is surprising to build a tropical theme park in Okinawa – the place has no shortage of natural tourist attractions with more than enough activities to occupy your time, such as world-class snorkeling, swimming, diving, and kayaking, in between the island hopping and shrine visits visitors can also engage in.
However, it could very well be that USJ is planning to branch out from its traditional movie themes, since it already has an amusement park for such attractions in Osaka. There was recent speculation that the company would partner with Nintendo, for example, which would presumably allow it to expand its horizons somewhat.
ユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン公式 (@USJ_Official) June 19, 2015
According to a statement made by Glenn Gumpel (CEO of USJ) back in March, the park’s main target will be inbound tourists to Japan, in an attempt to lure them to travel to southern Japan beyond the more oft-visited likes of Tokyo and Kyoto. The number of foreign tourists visiting Okinawa has increased significantly over the last year; in 2014, 8.9 million tourists visited the southern tropical island, representing a 62-percent increase from the previous year. It is hoped that the Nangoku Resort will attract even more tourists by showcasing the natural beauty and charm of Okinawa and tropical Japan.
The location and planned opening date for Nangoku Resort are yet to be revealed, but possible candidate sites include Ocean Expo Park and Neo Park Okinawa.