Have you ever heard of ‘Mushi Mushi Land’? It sounds a bit like a fluffy bunny place, but it actually is something quite different: ‘mushi’ means ‘bug’ in Japanese and Mushi Mushi Land is a nature park in Fukushima which has been dedicated to the study and display of insects. The place is abundant in rhinoceros beetles that you are even allowed to pet! Before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it has been frequented by many curious visitors. No need to say that after the disaster happened the place was empty. In 2016 the park is trying to bounce back, despite the region’s reputation as being contaminated with radioactive elements.
Mushi Mushi Land was founded by Yoshinori Yoshida in the early 90’s. As a young boy, Yoshida has always loved beetles, and he would always carry some of them while walking home. Because his family expected him to he started managing their family’s clothing business. But then, aided by the booming economy in Japan during the late 80’s the beetles entered his life again. His town received a grant from the government for revitalizing surroundings, which was spent on a simple beetle petting zoo. After Yoshida got in charge of the zoo the park started drawing in not only visitors from the village itself but from further away as well. Soon around 40.000 people were drawn to the park every summer, which is even more than the whole region’s population.
Mushi Mushi Land has always been considered the beetle kingdom in Japan because of its large number of rhinoceros beetles. These beetles are well-known for their large size and menacing look, but harmless nature. They cannot bite nor sting thus it is safe for people to pet them. The nature park was considered to be the first petting zoo for beetles in Japan.
The Fukushima disaster has greatly affected the condition of the park. It is struggling to entice visitors to come to the area once more. The petting zoo was reopened in 2014, but the amusement part of the park remains closed. There used to be several rides such as a butterfly roller coaster and a bumblebee seesaw, but these are all barricaded now. It was hard to decontaminate the soil of Mushi Mushi Land as it was seen as a low priority area by the government. Eventually, Yoshida together with his employees did all the scraping off of litter and soil in areas which accumulated high radiation readings.
After many years of rehabilitation, the World Health Organization has already confirmed the area to be safe for travel. Mushi Mushi Land is continuously hoping that many visitors, especially children, will visit the place in order to have an unforgettable beetle petting experience.
Mushi Mushi Land Website*Japanese Only