It has been over 20 years since I visited Japan. The year was 1990 and I was the star attraction at a giant spa and hotel resort called the Nagashima On Sen. The project housed three hotels.
As I recall the hotels were all spectacular and the whole development was built on reclaimed land jutting out into the ocean.
The town of Nagashima is located in the northeastern part of Mie in a delta area created by the Kiso-gawa, Nagara-gawa, and Ibi-gawa rivers. The land is low, so people built banks called ‘waju’ in order to develop farms and protect them.
The riverside farm scenery remains much as it was in the old days, and paddy field boats carrying seedlings and manure are common sights.
The On Sen comprises a huge leisure complex, comprised of Nagashima Spaland, which has about 4 0 different attractions, including the 33,000-square-meter outdoor bath Yuami-no-shima, a super coaster called Steel Dragon 2000 (currently closed because it appears the wheels keep falling off!) , Jumbo Kaisui Pool (seawater pool), and the world’s largest water park.
The water rides and swimming pools are packed during the summer and switch to an ice rink in the winter.
Needless to say the resort suffered as did most of the Pacific coast from the earthquake and tsunami that recently devastated Japan.
Trains are now running again and this area seems to have recovered.
At the time I was in Japan I was performing as a professional magician and doing a grueling 4 shows a day, three of which were in a hall seating over 2000 visitors who in true Japanese style sat on the floor to eat their packed lunch and occasionally glanced up at the stage and our performance. We were the headliners and had a supporting cast of Australian acts. In the evening we moved our show to a night club setting in the best of the three hotels, Hotel Hanamizuki.
The nightclub was called Circus Circus. I guess the owners must have visited Vegas or visa-versa.
Immediately below our accommodation, which was in the Nagashima Hotel, was an indoor games area almost the size of a city block where we spent most of our spare time. Believe me with 4 shows a day, 7 days a week we didn’t have a lot of spare time. Visitors would buy tokens to play the games and win soft toys. At the end of our first three months we had over 200 such toys and donated them to a local orphanage.
Our shows were at 10.30am, 2 pm and 3.30pm; we then had a break until our evening cabaret performance at 9pm. On at least two days a week we would race out of the hotel after our 3.30 show and jump on a bus to Nagashima and a rocket train express to Nagoya. The trip took just over half an hour and we had a few hours to shop in the underground city that exists beneath the streets of Nagoya. Rarely did we venture above ground as everything we wanted including Mc Donalds, was available in these underground tunnels that extend in all directions from the rail station; not to mention the tight schedule we were on!
I would not hesitate to return to this beautiful country and our wishes for a speedy recovery are extended to all those involved in this horrific tragedy.