Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2021/04/02
Marketed as “H.C.Andersen Park” to visitors from overseas, in 2015, Trip Advisor rated Funabashi Andersen Park as the third most popular theme park in Japan; and the tenth most popular in Asia. While this claim might seem outlandish – considering the two Disney theme parks in Chiba alone – this attraction finds itself oddly frequented, even in pandemic times; confirming that the healing power of flowers attracts bigger crowds than most might imagine.
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 manholes around the park bear the design of one of the author’s artworks.
Funabashi Andersen Park spreads out over five distinct areas; 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 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 leisurely, 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 throughout the park – and throughout the year – the highlighted flowers vary from season to season, usually as part of seasonal events. For example, the Christmas Rose Collection (event) tends to take place from the end of February to the beginning of March. Displays of daffodils also tend to be in bloom at this time of the year. A stunning array of pansies also hugs the periphery of the windmill; pansies’ blooming season being from autumn to springtime in Funabashi, and the park hosts one-hundred varieties. 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.”
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 gut-wrenching 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 one becomes tired or peckish, there are various facilities around the park, to quell your hunger, and/or 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. When looking for divertissement suited to various tastes, this park may well be an ideal choice.
525 Kanehoricho, Funabashi City
(About 15 minutes by bus (New Keisei Bus) from New Keisei Line, Misaki Station)