Tired of being called “uncultured” by those around them, our reporters Mr. Sato and Yoshio made a road trip to Iwate Prefecture and all of its historical sites such as the Chusonji Golden Hall and Kenji Miyazawa Fairy Tale Village. It was the perfect place to learn more about Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

However, as they drove along Route 4 heading for the over-900-year-old Morioka Hachiman Shrine, something unusual caught Mr. Sato’s eye. “It’s a big red Ferris wheel!” he shouted, immediately forgetting about the site where Emperor Ojin’s spirit is enshrined.

Grabbing Yoshio’s arm, he forced the car to an off ramp and closer to the Ferris wheel, which they would soon learn was not just any old wheel, it was the American World Ferris wheel!

■ It’s a commercial complex! Yay…

Pulling into the large parking lot of American World, Yoshio and Mr. Sato found themselves surrounded by all things American. There was the American Wave CD and DVD rental shop, the American Paradise toy store, Books American, print shop Lab American, and American Sports where you can enjoy a game of baseball, basketball, or lacrosse.

Our pair of reporters were confused that these all appeared to be regular shops and no other rides could be found in American World except the Ferris wheel. Yoshio pulled out his smartphone and checked American World’s website.

According to it, American World was Japan’s first “theme commercial complex.” The website didn’t specifically say what the theme was, but the guys could guess.

■ Always some wet blankets

Although it was a little strange, it was also kind of nice to see these individual businesses all give themselves an “American” moniker. It gave the place a sense of unity. However, like when asking everyone to wear a costume to a party, you know there are going to be some who flake out thinking no one else will do it.

American World is no exception, with Japanese hamburger chain Mos Burger, Ban Bino Italian restaurant, Onitsurugimai local performance bar, and Karen Chinese restaurant to name of few of the hold-outs. Baskin Robbins was also included in this list. Even though they are American, would it have killed them to call themselves “American Baskin Robbins” just this one time?

Mos Burger gets some extra credit though as they put a little extra “American” into their decor

■  Be sure to ride the wheel!

It goes without saying that the centerpiece of American World is the big Ferris wheel painted in the American colors: red, yellow, and blue. Most red-blooded Japanese visitors would jump at the chance to ride the big red wheel, but to Yoshio and Mr. Sato, who were both terrified of heights, it looked like a flaming red death trap.

Nevertheless, they were reporters at heart and not experiencing the Ferris wheel for their report would have been unprofessional, so they made their way over. Mr. Sato asked the operator: “How big is this thing anyway?”
“About 30 meters (98ft) tall and 27m (88ft) wide,” the operator answered.
“Whelp, I think we got all the info we needed for our story,” Mr. Sato remarked. “Let’s get out of here.”

But as he was walking away, he noticed a sign that read “Adults 200 yen (US$1.70), Children 100 yen ($0.85).” How could they not ride for that price? It was a bargain, and both men’s inability to refuse a bargain far outweighed their primal fears.

And so Mr. Sato and Yoshio sat in the gondola and trembled as it slowly rose revealing more of the Kitakami city scape around them. Not too long after, they could even see the Ou mountain range in the distance. It was simply breathtaking.

Forgetting their fears Mr. Sato took out his smartphone and took some snaps while Yoshio pulled out his beloved Ricoh Theta 360 degree camera. Thanks to it, you the reader may now experience what it’s like to sit with Mr. Sato and Yoshio inside a Ferris wheel. Get ready…

Something about this American World Ferris wheel had soothed the men’s acrophobia by the time they reached the top. However, their joyride was short-lived when a small gust of wind caused the gondola to sway ever so slightly.

The movement caused panic to grip Yoshio and Mr. Sato with the force of 20 ice cream headaches and the two clung to their benches as they slowly went over the Ferris wheel’s apex. Because it was a weekday they were the only two people on the ride. Yoshio thought, “If it happened to break during this time who would report our deaths? We’re the reporters!”

The combination of fear and irony was almost too much for their minds to bear and as the wheel gently lulled to a stop at the bottom their rubbery knees could barely carry them off to terra firma.

Overall, they’d recommend the American World Ferris wheel people into high places and other crap like that, just don’t invite them. Satisfied with their American adventure Yoshio and Mr. Sato drove back to Tokyo, completely forgetting why the had come out here in the first place.

Information
Theme Commercial Complex “American World”
36 Chiwari, 32 Kitaoniyanagi, Kitakami, Iwate
Hours: 11:00am to 9:00pm
Website

Original article by Mr. Sato
Photos & Video: RocketNews24

The Ferris wheel ride was also captured on video so you can enjoy six minutes of their fear-fueled idle chatter

Here’s the American Wave CD & DVD rental shop

American signs

Everything was as American as three guys with electric guitars in a floppy top hat

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American Paradise has Ghibli and Disney themed toys

▼ American Sports looked fun

The sports available include: Badminton, Basketball, Trampoline, Batting Cages, Pitching Games, Table Tennis, and Skateboarding. No mention of lacrosse which leads us to believe those are just two guys fighting to the death with shovels on the sign.

After passing by the Party House we come the American World sushi restaurant

Although not American in name, many buildings had traditional American clay tile roofs


[ Read in Japanese ]