Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2023/04/04
In 2015, Trip Advisor rated Funabashi H.C. Andersen Park as the third most popular theme park in Japan, and the tenth most popular in Asia. With plenty of major theme parks to choose from–there are two Disney theme parks in Chiba alone–it could be seen as an upset for the lesser-known Andersen Park to even appear on this list. However, upon discovering the delightful experiences and quaint atmosphere on offer here, it’s not hard to see why the park has rightly earned such high praise.
The park was launched in 1996, its theme based on the fact that the city of Funabashi is a sister city of Hans Christian Andersen’s hometown of Odense in Denmark. The various structures around the park–from the gatehouse to the restaurant, and even the gift shop–all reflect classic Danish architecture. Even the manhole covers around the park bear the design of one of the author’s artworks.
Funabashi Andersen Park spreads out over five distinct areas; the Wanpaku Kingdom Park, the Fairy Tale Hill Zone, the Children’s Art Museum Zone, the Castle of Flowers Zone, and the Nature Experience Zone. In the Wanpaku Kingdom Park, visitors may experience one of Japan’s largest obstacle courses, ride a pony, visit the small animal petting zoo area, and partake in mini-golf as well as other activities. The Fairy Tale Hill Zone is home to replica Danish-style homesteads and gardens, designed to recreate the pastoral scenery of Denmark in the 1800s. The Children’s Art Museum Zone allows children of all ages to create art of their own; through textiles, ceramics, dyeing, and prints. The Castle of Flowers Zone is meant to be a haven where one may relax and enjoy the changing of the seasons. The Nature Experience Zone harnesses the area’s woodlands and wetlands; with a walking path that winds around the waterfront, and inexpensive boat rentals at the Pond of the Sun.
Although flowers may be seen in abundance year-round throughout the park, the highlighted flowers vary from season to season, usually as part of seasonal events. One of the park’s gardeners, Ms. Tamaki Nakamura explains that, “In Andersen Park, seasonal events are organized like festivals. So, in spring we have a cherry blossom festival, in summer we have a sunflower festival, in autumn we have a cosmos festival, and in winter we have a tulip festival. These are our four main annual events.” Another event is the Christmas Rose Collection, which takes place from the end of February to the beginning of March. Displays of daffodils decorate the park at this time of the year too. From autumn to spring, a stunning array of pansies can be found in bloom around the park’s windmill.
When asked what she thinks sets this park apart, Ms. Nakamura quickly replies, “I think there are few parks (like this) in the world where you can enjoy flowers year-round. And, unlike in other theme parks which are built around large attractions, Andersen Park is based on (the author’s) stories. So, we focus on delivering coziness and hominess, rather than thrills. Also, it used to be that our largest visitor demographic was parents with their children, but these days a lot of young couples, college students and older people are visiting our park. So, we now have a wider range of visitors in our clientele.”
When you become tired or peckish, there are various facilities around the park to quell your hunger and quench your thirst. The gift shop near the park’s south gate sells slushies in two different sizes and flavors, The Boat House café (near the water’s edge) retails danishes and beverages, and the main restaurant (near the site’s center) offers many types of meals; from barbecue sets, to curries and pastas. With this variety of dining options, you’re sure to find something to fit the tastes of everyone in your party.
525 Kanehoricho, Funabashi City
(About 15 minutes by bus from Misaki Station on the Shin-Keisei Line. )