Beppu’s onsen destination plans to start receiving guests this year.
Back in November, the city of Beppu, located in Oita Prefecture on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, uploaded to YouTube a video of people enjoying a day at an amusement park. Two things, though, made the proceedings very different from a day at Tokyo Disneyland or Universal Studios Japan.
Beppu is one of Japan’s premiere hot spring (or onsen, in Japanese) resorts. Because of that, every park-goer in the video was dressed in a towel, and the rides and attractions were filled with hot spring water.
▼ Beppu’s onsen amusement park video
The surreal bit of marketing got even more surprising at its end, though, when Beppu mayor Yasuhiro Nagano showed up made the following promise:
“When this video reaches one million views, we hereby pledge to construct on onsen amusement park in Beppu City.”
The Internet responded with gusto, and the video reaching that mark in less than a week (it’s view count now sets at 2.8 million). Nagano is a man of his word, and swiftly issued a statement thanking everyone for their support and reiterating that this did indeed mean that development was getting the green light.
However, he never said that the city was going to foot the bill for the park’s construction. The project’s planners have stated that they will not be using a single yen of tax money to finance the construction of Yuuenchi, as the park is being called (the name comes from a combination of the Japanese words yuu, “hot water,” and yuenchi, “amusement park”).
As part of the fundraising activities, a Yuuenchi crowdfunding campaign is set to kick off next month on Japanese website Campfire, with a goal of 100 million yen (US$826,000).
Some may bristle at this request for financial support coming after Nagano’s beaming announcement that the park would be built (the video was filmed at Rakutenchi, a pre-existing Beppu amusement park that does not have an onsen theme). However, total construction costs are likely to be far more than 100 million yen, so it isn’t as though the park is completely relying on individual backers.
It’s also worth noting that the Yuuenchi website has a countdown that’s ticking towards its endpoint of July 29, designated as the day the park will open, without any qualifying statements about that being dependent on the crowdfunding campaign’s success. In addition, while no details have yet been released regarding award tiers, it seems like a given that tickets would be given to those contributing at least the cost of at-the-gate admission, so for those planning to go to Yuuenchi anyway, throwing some cash at the campaign could be a no-brainer.
In a press conference about the park’s continuing development, Nagano stated “The expectations are big for Yuuenchi. We’re hoping to create something that will live up to those expectations, delivering fun and excitement.”
The Campfire campaign is scheduled to start on February 10.