We visited and prepared 50 stunning photographs of the Russian-themed park that was built in woods outside Niigata and then abandoned. Financed with the help of and heavily supported by Ryutaro Omori, then president of the Niigata Chuo Bank, the Niigata Russian Village opened on September 1st, 1993, and was heavily expanded in 1994. Niigata Russian Village hired many Russians to make it more alive. In the park, they built a gigantic hotel, a replica of Suzdal Church, many shops, and a circus. The park closed in December 2003 for a winter break and didn’t open again as originally scheduled in April 2004.
The bizarre setting of remote Japanese backwoods scattered with matryoshkas and Orthodox churches seems even eerier since it was abandoned. Unfortunately, the whole village has since been violently and systematically vandalized, with very little of it left intact. A situation that needless to say is a genuine shame, as, left untouched, it would have been a truly fascinating place. Especially so once nature really started to take the buildings back.
The park includes a large cathedral, a hotel (which has sustained a great deal of fire damage), multiple theaters, restaurants, and even a golf course. The Russian Village has two main areas, one around the grand onion-domed church at the top by the entrance, and the other at the bottom, connected by a long covered walkway, the courtyard of shops and restaurants ringed by several cultural attractions and animal pens, including the show hall of the fake mammoths.
The walls of the abandoned were covered with religious artwork, lots of angels brandishing swords, men halo-ed by light, and a few stained-glass windows with angels looking down on the pews benignly.