Abandoned - Urbexing Jungle Park


Just over 50 years ago, a 12,000-meter square botanical park was opened towards the southern point of Izu Peninsula, west of Tokyo, Japan. Constructed in a chain of enormous greenhouses, Jungle Park housed thousands of species of local and introduced tropical plants. The theme park was an early success, though visitor numbers declined as the complex aged. The park eventually shuttered its doors 2003.


By 2016, the abandoned architecture was dense with wild plant life. Tendrils of flowering fuchsia, jasmine, lantana and bougainvillea laced through the tangled skeletons of expired shrubs, vines and trees. With little damage to the integrity of most of the greenhouses (some roofing had collapsed in areas), only the species most acclimated to the dense biome flourished in verdant waves of unchecked growth.

The sparse cages of since relocated monkeys and birds stood unused and unglamorous, the sunken remains of a meercat enclosure, once a main attraction, served as a dump for surplus plant pots. Specimen jars, pens, paperwork, stationary and other paraphernalia rested where they had been laid down years ago. Maps marking out the key features of the site kept vigil as quiet sentinels, navigating urbexers through the remains of displays, souvenir shops and cafes. Plant tags pointed to beds overtaken by roaming specimens. An elephant-shaped topiary raised its trunk high in defiance as it slowly disintegrated - probably succumbing in full with the site's demolition around 2018.


Looking at a recent satellite image of the Izu Peninsula, the demolished Jungle Park site (now a carpark and small visitor centre) is severe in contrast to the concentrated greenery of the former overgrown grounds. But having witnessed the scale of organic repossession in the urban landscape of the amusement park, I feel comforted by the fact that in our absence, nature adapts and thrives.


Jungle Park on the Irozaki Peninsula, Japan. A building is overgrown with wild foliage. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Jungle Park on the Irozaki Peninsula, Japan. Paperwork and a set of scales remain in the same place they were left in years ago. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Jungle Park on the Irozaki peninsula, Japan. A building is overgrown with wild foliage. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Abandoned Jungle Park on the Irozaki peninsula, Japan. A sign indicates a calliandra plant. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Abandoned Jungle Park on the Irozaki peninsula, Japan overgrown with plant life  Photographed by Megan Kennedy

The silhouette of a tree line in the abandoned Jungle Park in Japan photographed by Megan Kennedy

Abandoned Jungle Park on the Irozaki Peninsula, Japan. A crate labelled Suntory beer is now filled with leaves and branches. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Abandoned Jungle Park on the Irozaki Peninsula, Japan. An empty meerkat enclosure was once a central attraction to the park. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Abandoned Jungle Park on the Irozaki Peninsula, Japan. Names indicating the inhabitants of an empty meerkat enclosure. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Abandoned Jungle Park on the Irozaki Peninsula, Japan. A black and white photograph of inside the abandoned park. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Abandoned Jungle Park on the Irozaki Peninsula, Japan. A specimen exhibited in an intact jar of formaldehyde. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Abandoned Jungle Park on the Irozaki Peninsula, Japan. Jasmine flowers in bloom inside the humid greenhouses. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Found while urbexing the abandoned Jungle Park on the Irozaki Peninsula, Japan, trees collapsed in a pond. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Abandoned Jungle Park on the Irozaki Peninsula, Japan. The roof and wall of one of the giant greenhouses. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Black and white photo of a bin nearly engulfed in foliage found while urbexing in Jungle Park in Japan. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Vines dip into a pond in black and white photographed by Megan Kennedy

A decaying elephant topiary photographed at the abandoned jungle park site by Megan Kennedy

Abandoned and torn brochures from Jungle Park in Japan photographed by Megan Kennedy



A ticket booth hidden amongst dead leaves and vines found while urbexing in Jungle Park in Japan. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

A giant abandoned greenhouse in Jungle Park in Japan, west of Tokyo. Found while urbexing. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

A portrait of collapsed trees in the demolished Jungle Park in Japan, west of Tokyo. Photograph by Megan Kennedy.

A rusted pump with vines brushing lightly against the metal in the abandoned Jungle Park in Japan. Photograph by Megan Kennedy

Foliage cascades over undergrowth in one of the abandoned greenhouses in Jungle Park, Japan. Photographed by Megan Kennedy

Lopped trees beneath the huge greenhouse structures of  the abandoned Jungle Park in Japan. Photography by Megan Kennedy

A black and white photograph depicting a path trailing off into dense greenery at the now-demolished Jungle Park in Japan. Photograph by Megan Kennedy.