Complete with pink suits and pig noses, of course.

It was with a heavy heart that SoraNews24 founder and boss Yoshio heard the sad news: after an impressive 94 year run, Tokyo amusement park Toshimaen would be closing on August 31. For anyone born and raised in Tokyo’s Nerima ward, as Yoshio was, the amusement park was almost like a surrogate mother. And while many businesses have struggled to survive due to a certain ongoing pandemic, Toshimaen was closing for a very different reason; to make room for the new Tokyo-based Harry Potter museum.

Toshimaen held a very special place in Yoshio’s heart, so he got the SoraNews24 boys together for one final visit. Of course, Yoshio was keen to show Toshimaen how special it was to him, so simply just visiting the park wasn’t enough. He wanted to make sure the park knew, “We won’t forget about you, even after the Harry Potter museum gets built!

So the gang decided to go dressed in pink lycra bodysuits, complete with cute little pig noses.

Why were they dressed as pigs, you ask? To pay homage to the face of Toshimaen, Carousel. Carousel is a mechanical pig who, along with his friend El-Dorado the horse, are the mascots of the park’s famous wooden merry-go-round. The merry-go-round, named ‘Carousel El-Dorado’, is rich in history, as it was originally built in Germany over a hundred years ago. Surviving both world wars, the merry-go-round made its way to the park in 1971, where it has remained a firm favourite ever since.

The merry-go-round has racked up a lot of air miles though, as before Toshimaen it had been staying at New York’s ‘Steeplechase Park’ amusement park. Steeplechase Park ultimately got closed down in 1964, meaning Carousel El-Dorado has seen two parks close in its lifetime. Maybe it’s cursed…?

But Yoshio’s face lit up when he saw Carousel El-Dorado. “It really is the heart of Toshimaen,” he said, his face covered in pink paint. As you can see from our boss’ joyful expression, Carousel El-Dorado crossed the seas and brought smiles to the faces of so many children over the years. We can only hope it keeps on spinning its happiness somewhere in the world.

▼ Entering the park

▼ Of course, they made sure they disinfected properly once they were inside.

As expected, the park was full of visitors coming to say one final goodbye to their beloved Toshimaen, so the queues for the gift shop and popular rides were long. But rather than the irritating hustle and bustle that you can experience with amusement parks full of people, the atmosphere at Toshimaen felt relaxed and laid back. It felt like an atmosphere unique to Toshimaen.

So comfortable was the atmosphere, in fact, that it almost felt like you were being transported back to your childhood. Out of nowhere, 47-year-old Mr. Sato was astride a mechanical panda, his unusually innocent face overflowing with childlike wonder. Are we really still in 2020, or is this just the magic of Toshimaen?

And so it was like this that the SoraNews24 team spent the rest of their day. Today was not a day for working, it was a day to spend gleefully reliving their childhood memories whilst dressed up as a mechanical pig mascot.

Of course, a group of middle-aged men dressed in pink bodysuits caught people’s attention, and the gang quickly gathered a small group of fans.

They were interviewed for TV before they’d even entered the park.

▼ Precious memories

▼ Moments they’ll surely cherish forever

▼ When the SoraNews24 debut album drops, expect this to be the cover art

▼ Goodbye, Toshimaen!

▼ And thank you!

Toshimaen closed at the end of August, but if you’re feeling like you missed out, don’t worry! There are plenty of other perfectly charming amusement parks just waiting for you to visit them. We can’t guarantee you’ll run into our boss in a pink bodysuit, but you might catch a glimpse of Mr. Sato if you look closely enough…

Images © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]