In the late 1960's, a place called "Japanese Gardens and Deer Park" opened up in Buena Park. I don't recall the exact location of where it was, but I want to say it was located along Beach Blvd, perhaps near La Palma, in the vicinity of Movieland Wax Museum.
I remember going there sometime around 1971 or 72, with my mom and dad. We actually lived in San Diego then. I don't recall what the place looked like. I was just only 5 or 6 years old, and too bored with the place.
Justin Allen, a visitor to this website, sent us several photos, check them out.
Below are some e-mails we received by us some years ago during the old days of OCThen.com:
By: Cheryl Worth, 16 Aug 2002If you have any memories of Japanese Gardens and Deer Park, please share them us on this page, by clicking on "Post a Comment" below.
I remember when my parents took us to the Japanese Deer Park (in the late 60's, early 70's) and my sister Lori and I each got to pick out a Japanese Umbrella that was made out of beautiful paper along with a flute-type musical instrument made out of some type of bamboo or wood. We had a wonderful time feeding the deer and always wondered what happend to the park, since we never visited it as I got older and moved out of state. I had wanted to take my son there to visit on our summer vacation this year, and that's how I found this web site looking for information on it because I wasn't sure where it had been located.
By: Annette Cano, 3 Aug 2002
My memories as a little girl it was a yearly event to go to Japanese village. It was so beautiful all the bonzi trees and the little bridges and the animals and the shows. I wish that this village still existed because of its innocents, beauty, and realizm.
By: Anonymous, 2 Aug 2002
The fuji folk character brings back memories of the park. I remember that the fuji folk costume got a wee bit dirty after awhile. I am not sure if the costume was washable or not. I do remember feeling sympathy for the person who had to put it on during the summer because it got very very hot inside. I don't remember his name(brown belt) but usually the person working the character also was in the samarai & karate show. I believe they trained under sensei demura in santa ana. the park was a fun place to work & one was able to meet people.
By: Bob Hilts, 25 July 2002
Both Japanese Village "JV" and Movieland Wax Museum were founded by Allen Parkinson and subsequently both sold to Six Flags, Inc. in the early 1970s. JV was closed exclusively due to falling attendance and resulting revenue declines during the 3 year period that Six Flags was actively trying to promote this unique Southern California attraction. D. Canchola, as part of this list, indicated that "there hasn't been another amusement park since that can compare to Japanese Village" and that is certainly true. Japanese Village was beautifully landscaped in a traditional Japanese method with serene music, cultural artifacts, grommet type Japanese food and a myriad of animal shows including: lions, tigers, dolphins, deer, macaws and bears not only on a swing but bears that played basketball and could out shoot/muscle Shaquille O'Neal at any inside position. I worked in the "JV" accounting/finance department and was there during operations, closure and the through final days! . During these last few days I was interviewed by a UCLA grad student doing her Ph.D. work on USA amusement parks and the importance of their viability being directly associated and tied to the overall cultural of the area in which they are located. OK... but I do miss the "Fuji Folk".
By: Tamara, 5 July 2002
I carried a pearl that I got from the oyster diver with me for 30 years and just three years ago had it made into a necklace. I lost it last year in my back garden and was totally distraught about it - but, hey, the memory of the place is still there. I remeber that the deers decided that my leather fringed vest and my mum's fringed suede bag were a delicacy and we were absolutely swarmed by manic fringe mad dear - they really went wild, as though they'd never been fed. It makes me laugh just thinking about it. None of my friends remeber this place, nor does my sister - I started to think perhaps it didn't either. Funny how you happen upon others who have memories of obscure places.
By: Linda R. Johnen, 29 Apr 2002
I was in my late teens when going there with my family. I thought it was one of the nicest attractions in Orange County. I always admired the Japanese culture; I always thought it was so beautiful. So when I visited there several times I just enjoyed the atmosphere of quietness, charm, and beauty of that the park had to offer. It was a sad day for me to see it close down. I felt that this was the closest I could see Japan in my own backyard!
By: T. Jennings, 1 Apr 2002
I remember the Japanese Deer Park as a fun place to visit. They had Japanese Pearl divers, diving for cultured pearls, which you could buy on the premises. I also recal an avery in the shape of a gazebo where you could feed the white doves that flew to you for food, as they would just eat right out of your hand. The deers in the park were sweet as they gracefully walked around. I was very disappointed to see it close, but if my memory serves me well, as soon as it closed, they erected another adventure park called "Enchanted Village" which also didn't last long. I remember seeing a giraffe there and also recal seeing a wildlife shows with tigers. They also had Hawaiian or Polynesian type dancers and a western musical show as well.
After the Japanese Deer Park closed or perhaps it was next door to it, I recal another theme park called "Enchanted Village" which also didn't last long. I remember seeing a giraffe there and also seeing wildlife shows with tigers. They also had Hawaiian or Polynesian type dancers and a western musical show.
By: D.Canchola, 7 Feb 2002
There hasn't been another amusement park since that can compare to Japanese Village. It seemed like back then that Knott's Berry would have bought out the the struggling Japanese Village Park and kept it operating and restructured it's finances since at the time Knott's sure wasn't hurting for business. But they just let Japanese Village sink and the only people interested in buying it were developers who just wanted to turn it into an Industrial and Business park. I'll always miss Japanese Village there will never be another park like it to replace it.
By: Bruce Tovar, 30 Jan 2002
I worked there in the early 1970's doing karate/samurai demo's. It was great fun! The reason it closed was purely financial. I remember being sent out in a gi (karate uniform) with "Fuji Folk" for promotions at malls and schools. Most of the deer were destroyed but not because of illness. It was do to lack of placement options. What a great place it was!
By: Mark Wallace, 31 Dec.2001
I remember the deer park well! It was my fist exposure to foreign culture and was like traveling to a different world. Walter T. Foster art book publishers was near there also. I now live in Ventura and can't believe what's become of OC! It's really a mess.
By: Bob Miller, 27 Dec 2001
For some reason the Japanese Village just popped into my mind recently. I remember it as a very peaceful and clean place, so quiet and subdued compared to the flashy, noisy world we live in now. I would love to see some pictures of the place. It seems so very distant now, almost as though it was never really there.
By: David Vallandigham, 25 Nov 2001
My wife mentioned Feeding the deer by hand at Shasta Dam near Redding. That made me recall my grandmother taking me to Japenese Deer Park and how much I enjoyed feeding the deer around 1965. The Japanese lanterns hanging in the air were beautiful. Knowing my wife and I enjoyed the beauty of the animals at opposite ends of California was a nice thought to share with her - Dixie.
By: David Canchola, 31 Oct 2001
I remember where Japanese Village and deer park was it was on Knott Ave Adjacent to the I-5 Freeway near the Nabisco warehouse in Buena Park I really Miss Japanese Village and deer Park it was an Unique Place I heard the reason they Closed was because they were losing money and not making it. I also miss Marineland of the Pacific they also Closed their doors too.
By: fuji folk, 29 July 2001
Japanese Village and Deer Park was located on Knott Ave in Buena Park Calif. The reason why it closed because the park was losing money. Not because of the deer becoming sick. It could not compete against Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and Magic Mountain.
By: Daniel S. Garcia, 16 Jun 2001
As a child my father took us to this park, we recently put our 8mm film to tape, and had some scenes from the park, I remember feeding the deers, and getting the feed from the dispensers, and the Koi ponds. What I don't remember is where the location of the park was, and why it was closed. We had such a good time there that summer, if any one remembers where the park was and why it closed please drop me a line, thank for letting me share my memories