Sunday, March 27, 2005

Japanese Village and Deer Park

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 2002

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
If you have any memories of Japanese Gardens and Deer Park, please share them us on this page, by clicking on "Post a Comment" below.

65 comments:

  1. I was born in Buena Park, CA and grew up in Anaheim, CA from 1958 -1992. I know for a fact that the reason why Japanese Deer Park was closed was because the deer became diseased. That eventually led to finacial problems and the park had to be closed down. The expense to try and save the deer was overwhelming.

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  2. Japanese Village was located on 6122 Knott Ave.Buena Park Ca.(Village Dr. & Knott Ave. The only remaining evidence from the park is a huge tree at the end of Village Dr. Currently, the area is an industrial park. I remember seeing skinny Steven Seagal(actor) perform in an outdoor play when first began to act. I remember seeing Priscella Presley w/ Ed Parker strolling through the park. (She is a stoned fox up close). Many celebrities were there. I remember talking with Jacques Cousteau and saw the fire in his eyes when we discussed the ocean, dolphins, and the dolphin show. Sensei Fumio Demura, Sensei Kiyoshi Yamasaki, Sensei Sho Kosugi, Sensei Dan Ivan and Doug Ivan performed in the Karate Show. The Karate Show was the best when there were 9 Masters performing on stage at the same time. All the shows were well done except for the last one(a fake dragon popped out from the stage at a cost of a half million. The food at the main teahouse was very good. I met my fist love there.

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  3. I was wondering where my love of Japanese culture came from when I recalled a place I hadn't thought of in over 30 years. My brother and I called it Japanese Deer Park. We lived in Santa Monica then. I remember the deer in pursuit of the pellets in my tiny hands, walking on the bridges, the gardens, wanting a pet goldfish, and the miniature white plastic deer I took home as a souvenir. The last time we tried to go, they had closed down. We were so dissappointed. To a small child in L.A., it was an oasis.

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  4. My dad worked as a security officer (Bob L) when it was Japanese village and deer park and also when they opened Enchanted Village. He used to take me to work with him and I would be all over that place. I worked there in the mid 70's. My first job there was the parking control and than the midway style games. My last job there
    was the raft ride.The raft ride was the best place to work.Don L
    (714)928-7824

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  5. Somewhere I have an 8mm film of the best Karate Show ever. The finale: two guys on either side of a set of thick boards, the karate master running, leaping, kicking, and breaking through the lumber, hitting one of the holders in the thumb. He danced around the stage, leaping and yelping, whirling in circles. Someday I'll find that film. Japanese Deer Park. Oh yeah.

    (Didn't mom and dad get a little drunk on sake?)

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  6. I just viewed a Mannix episode from March 13, 1971 that was shot at the Japanese Village and Deer Park. Joe Mannix, PI played by Mike Connors (1967-1975), had a rendezvous with a killer at the Village. Allegedly, The Village was closed on Tuesdays, or so the killer says in this episode. There is a game of cat and mouse between Joe Mannix and the killer through out the village and I noticed the the surroundings were very beautiful. It included scenese at the Sea Theatre. I had a wild thought that maybe the Village and Hollywood Wax Museum might still be open. (Even after 34 years? Dream on!) Instead I found this wonderful tribute to the place. Now I'm really sorry that I missed seeing it. The name of the Mannix episode is OVERKILL, but Mannix is not available on DVD and currently is only in syndication in France. Life is a real bummer

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  7. Hi all, I was surfing the web and came a cross this web site, and memories came back!!! How easy it is to forget. I was born in Buena Park in 1963 and still live here today.Japanese Village was a big part in my life as a child. Thank you for the memories.John & Bonnie Ortega www.TeamCSR.net

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  8. What a lose! I remember as a great diversion from the chaos of the other amusement parks. It was a fun place, that mixed in culture.

    Although I enjoy bringing my daughters to the other big parks with all there rides and charachters etc.. I would love to bring them somewhere like the Japanese Village and Deer Park to show them there is more to life than roller coasters. It is possible to have a great day without sensory overload all day long.

    Ken
    www.GotTickets.com

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  9. I remember living in Buena Park around 1969 and going to the Japanese Village Deer Park with my family. Walking around the grounds, feeding the deer, going over the little arced wooden footbridges, buying the feed from a gumball-style machine. We still have slides of the visits to the park. Good memories...what a shame the park closed.

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  10. Here is an advertisment for Japanese Village from Vacationland Magazine 1973:

    http://www.dldhistory.com/gallery.asp?Tab=Disneyland&Page=15&ID=1103&Current=14

    --Richard
    www.DLDHistory.com
    The Most Unique Disneyland History Site

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  11. Was in the car and the radio played the Michael Frank's song "Meet Me in the Deer Park".... which reminded me of that magical place i went as a kid. then i found this site. memories.
    thanks for that...... -S

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  12. Hello,
    Does anyone remember when Japanese Deer Park became Enchanted Village and they had a caged creature there? It looked kind of like a half man half ape and I think they called it the missing link or something... It wasn't there for very long.

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  13. Hello again,
    I just posted a message about the a man/ape at Enchanted Village. I got curious and found something interesting. It did exist and it was owned at one time by the owner of Enchanted Village: Ralph Helfner. You can look up an article at:
    rense.com

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  14. Katherine in San FranciscoFebruary 07, 2006 7:48 AM

    One of the most cherished memories from my chilhood is my family's visit to what we've always refered to as the Japanese Deer Park. I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Texas, and in the summer of 1968, when I was five years old, we flew to Los Angeles and visited Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, the Wax Museum, a movie studio, and the Japanese Deer Park. By far, my favorite of these was the Deer Park. I recall sitting in what seemed a vast area of tawny soil where the deer lived. I sang to them softly, and they let me stroke them and feed them out of my hand, I think. I also remember an aviary, where the birds hovered around us. I've lived in San Francisco for nineteen years, and I often find myself making solitary visits to the Japan Center here, to browse the shops and enjoy the Peace Plaza, where I sometimes bring my six-year-old daughter. We've also enjoyed enchanted afternoons of tea and walks in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. It wasn't until finding this site that I made the connection between my affinity for things Japanese and my experience in Orange County in the summer of 1968. Though we're not big on Disney, my husband and I are taking our daughter for a two-day visit to Disneyland next month. I would love to have taken her to the Japanese Village. It's nice to read other people's memories of the place.

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  15. Is there anybody out there that worked at the Wax Museum when it first opened up? Is there anybody out there that remembers going to the Movieland Wax Museum soon after it opend up? I think it opened in 1962 or 1963? I also remember going on a field trip to JV and it was a great place.

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  16. Don, I remember you and your dad(Bob). As I recall, you lived in LM. Your dad worked with old Joe, Big Grant & Bob F. Old Joe seemed to mumbled to himself and Bob F was a crackup to talk with. Grant is Grant. The parking lot job was no fun except when flirting with the girl(s) there. wasn't it? My first job was also working the parking lot, wearing those hoppy coat. Life seemed much simpler back then.

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  17. I was born in OC in 1957, and spent several childhood outings at the Deer Park. I distinctly recall that there was a sign posted explaining that if you bowed to the deer, they would bow back. As a little girl, I had a lot of fun with that! The deer were gentle and fun. The entire park was beautiful. I can't help but think that today's Orange County would welcome an Asian-themed amusement park. Too bad the timing was off.

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  18. Congratulations for keeping alive these wonderful memories about the oc in probably better peaceful times. My father used to take us to this japanese village, I still have some pictures with this beautiful japanese lady wearing beautiful kimonos. Pictures with deers, and lovely environments. It's so sad that cultural places like this one had no choice but closed out. Now I know that enchanted place was real thanks to your website it remind me good things.

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  19. I remember Japanese Village
    back in '73 when I took a elementary school field trip from the Westchester area of Los Angeles (4th thru 6th graders). It was really unique,..the karate shows and pearl divers, and deer garden. During that same year, the "Burns and Shriebner Comedy show"
    (Shrieber of Doritos TV commercials) filmed a live episode there as well. Great memories. GregP.

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  20. I too have fond memories of Japanese Deer Park and wish it was still around. I remember watching a diver return from a dive with an oyster which held a black pearl in it. I still have the pearl in its small pink envelope labeled murata pearl. No one mentioned the koi pond. . . didn't they have one? I remember feeding koi in a pond, I would swear that it was there. I really enjoyed that.

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  21. Is there a way to post photos of this Park on here ? For for you guys and gals ?

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  22. there was a koi pond where one could feed the fish for a quarter. One could also feed the deer and bears. There was also a dophin, bear, tiger(dan & his brother were the trainers), karate(Sensei Fumio Demura, Dan & Doug Ivan, Kyoshi Yamasaki, Ikuo Wada, Sho Kosugi, and even young & skinnier Steven Seagal was part of the show at the beginning. He was also in an outdoor play inside the park. There were many other attractions beside these.

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  23. The Deer Park was a great place. I went there with my family as a teenager and further on in it's years they started having dances on Friday and Saturday nights with a cover band. You could go see the shows at night when the band took it's breaks. I loved the teriyaki beef and sticky rice from the cart by the Dove Pavillion. Just a magical place!

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  24. Diane, the cover band was the Carry On band who recently reunited. Without sounding too spooky, my crystal ball is showing you and your younger sister(Chrissy) at the Park dances back in the '70s.

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  25. The cover band was the Carry On band who recently reunited. Diane, without sounding too spooky, I believe I remember you and your younger sister(Chrissy) at the Park dances.

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  26. i grew up on western, half a block from artesia, 1975-90.. before that we lived in la and i remember the ads for the deer park, and i remember enchanted villiage well. i got to ride a camel. and i remember the animal shows pretty well.. does anyone rember the aligator farm?

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  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  28. the first year we lived in buena park i could see the sign for enchanted villiage from my house. but they built an apartment complex across the street. we went there alot, somewhere theres pictures of me riding a camel. i can also remember the tv ads for the deer garden in the early 70's when we lived in la. . yeah, it was on knott just after artesia, next to bellis park.. the street leading into the office complex there now is still called "village drive'

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  29. I worked at Enchanted Village in the summer of 1977. It was located at the site of the old Japanese Deer Park - near the Nabisco plant in Buena Park. I work a bright pink sari and took tickets at the front gate. Later, I was "promoted" to selling balloons off of the back of a llama named Marc who was known to spit and stomp on your feet. There were two or three shows that I remember: a musical about Noah and the arc that featured many animals, a jungle-themed show that had monkeys, an elephant, and water animals - also a cute elephant trainer named Ridge :>). There was definitely a wild cat show too because I remember there was a tiger trainer from Germany. It was a fun summer job - EV had a small, kind of Mom's and Pop's feel to it.

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  30. Hey Lisa, I also worked there, taking tickets at the front gate. I quit sometime in July 1977. There was another guy named Dave, and a girl named Rachel as well. I remember that llama well, and a fellow with the last name, I think, of Foti walking him around. I called the llama "Lips". I also remember Carol Burnett coming to see the place, and commenting that she was bored! Remember that repetitive theme song -- "Enchanted Village is a wonderous village, and you really ought to see it..." on and on and on... They even sold a 45 disc of it just in case you wanted to play it at home!

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  31. I remember that song VERY well...the tune still runs thru my head from time to time. I think the ticket takers bore the brunt of hearing it, as the song ran over and over at the front gate. I think it was written by a nice guy named Darrel who worked there. He also wrote the music for the Noah show.

    Here are some of the lyrics as I remember them:
    Enchanted Village is a quiet village
    And you should come to see it
    Enchanted Village is a wondrous village
    And the animals lead you to it

    So close your eyes
    Think of paradise
    A place in which there's room in
    A happy place just to giggle and laugh
    Where the animals love the humans

    There were more words, but I haven't the faintest idea what they were. Oh, if only I had bought the 45!

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  32. OCLisa22, thanks so much! Since that song is stuck in my head forever, I am pleased that now I can finally fill out some of the lyrics... all I could do up to this point was sing that one phrase "Enchanted Village is a wonderous village and you really ought to see it" for every freakin' line!

    You are right about it having that small family-owned feel to it. Do you remember the trouble they had with peacocks getting loose and then playing on the 5 freeway just over the fence? Or the time when the male lion broke free from his handler and was running through EV, with a bunch of beige-uniformed animal trainiers with pith hats running behind it, trying to corral him back in? Or the sweet waft of the Vanilla Wafers being produced at the Nabisco plant?

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  33. I fondly remember going to the Deer Park with my family and seeing the Smoking Koi fish. There is a mention about the deer park in the old Hudson and Landry comic bit about the Ajax Liquor Store. "Where Bambi goes, nothing Grows". This was always a fun place to take kids.

    Ed from Northern Calif.

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  34. I grew up in Fountain Valley in the sixties and early seventies. My mom took me to JV once. It was so cool. I remember taking little day trips all of the time back then. I saw California from the back of a chevy station wagon. I thought it was neat to feed all of those spotted deer. I found out they liked cigarette butts (courtesy of my older brother just back from Nam). Those were the days.
    Tom W.
    Marble Falls, Ark.

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  35. My only memories of japanese village and deer park are of the beautiful photographs in the pamphlets that could be found in the lobby of virtually any hotel/motel back then; I had a hobby of collecting pamphlets from all sorts of attractions, cutting out the photos and decoupaging them to boards to make wall hangings; Though I actually lived in oc for 2 years, I never actually made it to japanese village, but I always thought I would someday.
    With a california trip coming up, I was looking forward to seeing it for the first time with my children; I can't even begin to describe my disappointment at learning from this site that it no longer exists.

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  36. I grew up in La Mirada and my mom used to take us to the Japanese Village. My cousin LOVED it and she still mentions it to me once in a while. I remember how sad I was when they closed it.

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  37. I didn't get a chance to visit Japanese Village when it was open although I wished I had. Aside from the sick deer and stiff competition from the other theme parks I believe that JV suffered from a lack of cultural awareness. The creators of the park built it in the wrong decade! If it would be recreated nowadays it would be very successful because people today are very familiar and appreciative of Japanese culture. INVESTORS...ARE YOU READING THIS?! Recreate Japanese Village! If you build it, they will come!

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  38. I remember the park had bears that played basketball.what a sight seeing them.I also remember feeding the Coi fish in the large ponds that they had.The park was a wonderful break from all the other amusement parks around.Why do we keep seeing so many great places disapear ?

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  39. I went there when I was 12 or so, not too long before it closed. I have some snapshots I took of the place. I should try to find them. Anyway, a Mission: Impossible episode was filmed there as well. It made a substitute for Japan. They even had Japanese cars which weren't that common then... except they were left-hand drive. :-)

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  40. I loved the place! I remember feeding the Koi, Deer & watching Karate shows. I saw Jan & Dean singing in concert there after the accident that one of them was affected by. I believe one of the reasons the Park didn't get the attendance to keep it going was the Japanese theme. At the time the U.S. thought the whole world revolved around it. Foreign culture wasn't as popular as it is now. No one would ever think of eating Sushi, Falafel, Yogurt, Espresso..etc..

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  41. anybody ever feed the pandas? now THAT was cool. ... . .

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  42. Wow, I remember going to Japanese Deer Park! I always thought it was so far...I grew up in Newport and what I remember the most were all the Seals in the big pool right in the middle! I think this is how Seals became my favorite animal now Dolphins are my favorite! Yep, they also had a Dolphin show and I also remember a really Deep pool with some kind of whale but I'm not sure what type.

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  43. I was sitting here reminiscing about places I had visited as a child and thought I'd see if I could find any information online. I began with Pacific Ocean Park and then Japanese Village came to mind. After reading all of the blog entries I ran to find an older photo album of mine, to see what memories had been documented from my visit. Being the amateur photographer, my collection consisted of sixteen photos, fourteen of which were taken at the bear attraction.
    I have vivid memories of the pearl divers, the parasols, feeding the deer, the koi, and the food. I remember a somewhat serene area too. The only souvenir I had was a beautiful bracelet, which must be in some other little girl's jewelry box.
    I would love to see photos, other than trained bears, to see if additional memories could be sparked.

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  44. The Japanese Village and Deer Park was owned and built by a chemist named Allen Parkinson. He is the same person that owned and built the Movieland Wax Museum. He sold both businesses in a package deal to The Great Southwest Corporation (the parent company to Six Flags) around 1975.
    The Great Southwest Corporation wanted the Movieland Wax Museum and as soon as they could, closed the Japanese Village and sold its assets.
    The Park did not close because of the deer. Yes, the deer had developed an animal version of TB. It was not contageous to humans, but could spread to other animals. It was purely an economic decision because it was no longer profitable.

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  45. A colleague at work just reminded me of Japanese Deer Park and all the memories flooded back! It was something that I had completely forgotten about until he mentioned it. This website is wonderful and I loved reading everyone's memories of this lovely place. I'm sure I have photos of my brother and I feeding deer there. Since we are half Japanese, I remember taking particular pride in elegant, serene and exotic culture of the park. I was so very sad to hear about what happened to the deer, however. Thanks for all these wonderful childhood memories!

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  46. I can remember having a family outing at a near-by park that was by the Deer Park(the name had changed to Enchanted Village) My cousin had scouted out possible entrances into the park without paying(sorry I was still a child when I went on this adventure) We sneaked through one of the theatres into the park. I can remember watching a show that I think featured some swamp creature. I remember they had a television commercial about this show. I can remember playing Japanese pochinko machines. My brother filled out a comment form. In the form he stated
    that we had sneaked into the park without paying.

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  47. I remember the Japanese Village and Deer Park as one of yesteryear OC's most faboulous attractions. My Grandma used to take me there back in the late 1960's-early 70's. We went to have tea and see the many shows they had. My favorite was the karate show where the karate masters would try to break wood in half. I do remember the show where one of the karate masters injured his fingers. The kids in the audience roared with laughter!!! That was one of the things I loved about this place...nothing was rehersed, new unexpected events happened every time I went. I loved the doves and the koi fish. My grandma had to drag me out of the dove gardens...I was so enchanted by the fact that the doves would fly to you and just sit on your lap while you stroked their feathers when they ate from your hand. Grammy always put a newspaper over her head and was afraid one of the doves would poop on her new hair do. So, as you can imagine she wanted to get us out of there as soon as possible. We both liked feeding the koi fish. I now have a lifelong love and affection for Koi fish because of this place and plan on having a koi garden in my backyard some day . I will dedicate it in memory of the JV and the memories 35 years can not erode. And also to my Grandma whom wanted me to learn about world cultures...whom is sadly in her declining years...age 91. May this OC live on in all our hearts and never die.
    Maybe some day they will realize that golf courses, condos and business parks will never equal the value of a child's education and respect for the world around them or the laughter. JV and Marineland made that real to generations of kids.
    Shame on developers!!!
    Now all kids have are concrete and gangs. Instead of generations of future scientists and cultural experts we have kids in prisons or cemeteries. We need a revival of rebuilding some of these places. Boomer OC Girl

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  48. Our family took several trips to Japanese Village in the 70s (during the Fuji Folk era). There was deer petting, koi ponds, karate demos, oyster diving, traditional music. We usually did a one-two punch of Wax Museum + the Village. I think I underestimated the impact of that place on my lifelong love for Japanese culture.

    Looking back, the Fuji Folk were pretty much demeaning Asian caricatures. But then again, that was the era of Sambo's Restaurants.

    When I got married, we lived in an apartment building that was connected to a Japanese garden and pavilion with koi - it always reminded me of JV (except no deer!)

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  49. I started going to JV as a small boy when it had just opened. I remember wandering off during a park expantion and petting the dolphins since you could walk right up to the tank before the stadium was built! I developed a true love of all things Japanese because of that park. I loved the gardens & have several photos of them, would love to post them here. I tend to get these memories mixed up with Sea World San Diego since they also had Japanese Gardens & a pearl diving lagoon in it's first days. I love to go back there as a lot of those gardens are still there though the divers are long gone. I also went to JV in 4th grade for a field trip as we were studying Japan. I never went there after it turned into Enchantged Village & I'm glad I didn't see that pathetic attempt to resurect the park, it was truly a One of a kind, and we'll probably never see anything like it again.

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  50. Does anyone actually know the birth & death dates of the park?

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  51. I remember going there in the early 70's I had my first taste of sushi as an 8yo and just about blew chunks.. oddly enough I love sushi now. the trip down the 91 freeway seemed to take ages back then ,"from gardena"
    but now I really wish the alligator farm and the deer park where still there.

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  52. I enjoyed reading through all of the reminisces of this magical little village now lost to time. I was reminded of the park while shopping at a local Japanese market (in Cypress) where the familiar aura of serenity made me think back to those days and to that wonderous place.

    I grew up in La Palma and had the occasion to visit JV two or three times in the early 70's. I, too, have fond memories of the cultural plunge which offered me the chance to get a small glimpse into a far away world, in a time when a few miles seemed to be another world. My brother and I (and a few friends) used to ride double on our bikes the three or four miles through unfamiliar neighborhoods in order to buy exotic trinkets like the little brass incense burners and cone incense that sold in the little stalls just outside of the the paid admission area of the park. In the days when a five bucks seemed like a pile of money, you could get some real cheap, mostly free, wholesome entertainment just looking through and taking home the brochures located prior to the entrance at Knott's Berry Farm and other attractions. A cheap day was feeding the ducks or paying a quarter to race around Jungle Island at Knott's or a a bike trek to the Deer Park. Half of day we'd spend riding to and from the park, and for a few hours we'd lap up the fascinations that meet our eyes before deciding upon which treasures we'd be handing over our pockets full of change for.

    What a magical time it was, and what a wonderous, uncluttered place was our beautiful Orange County. If they could have held out until the invention of California rolls...maybe our little dream world would still be here and that industrial blight more than a few bike-rides away. Thanks for he memories!

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  53. I enjoyed reading through all of the reminisces of this magical little village now lost to time. I was reminded of the park while shopping at a local Japanese market (in Cypress) where the familiar aura of serenity made me think back to those days and to that wonderous place.

    I grew up in La Palma and had the occasion to visit JV two or three times in the early 70's. I, too, have fond memories of the cultural plunge which offered me the chance to get a small glimpse into a far away world, in a time when a few miles seemed to be another world. My brother and I (and a few friends) used to ride double on our bikes the three or four miles through unfamiliar neighborhoods in order to buy exotic trinkets like the little brass incense burners and cone incense that sold in the little stalls just outside of the the paid admission area of the park. In the days when a five bucks seemed like a pile of money, you could get some real cheap, mostly free, wholesome entertainment just looking through and taking home the brochures located prior to the entrance at Knott's Berry Farm and other attractions. A cheap day was feeding the ducks or paying a quarter to race around Jungle Island at Knott's or a a bike trek to the Deer Park. Half of day we'd spend riding to and from the park, and for a few hours we'd lap up the fascinations that meet our eyes before deciding upon which treasures we'd be handing over our pockets full of change for.

    What a magical time it was, and what a wonderous, uncluttered place was our beautiful Orange County. If they could have held out until the invention of California rolls...maybe our little dream world would still be here and that industrial blight more than a few bike-rides away. Thanks for he memories!

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  54. My first job in high school was was at JV in the late 60's and it was the best job I ever had. It really did not seem like work and I have friends from those days I still have today. It was a very unique and peaceful place.

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  55. Japanese Village still lives on in Cypress!

    My dentist office has a large Choi pond. I was told this week that many of the Choi still living in the pond came from Japanese Village when they closed.

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  56. ::MEL TIRADO::
    I remember sitting in the stands watching the Whale show; I recall the large characters in traditional white face with kimono on. I recently lived, apparently, right around the corner from where it was and now know older friends who worked at "Japanese Village" when they were young teens...their experiences there were one of the best in their lives.

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  57. ::Mel tirado::
    Anyone have pictures of when they were there?

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  58. I was just watching an episode of Mission Impossible that was filmed there 1970 episode entitled butterfly.

    Supposedly where it existed is now George Bellis Park

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  59. My grandmother and I are making a list of all the places we have ever been. I remembered the Deer Park, but couldn't remember its name, but I remembered it was Asian themed. Thank heaven for Google. I don't remember much about it, as I was quite little, but I do remember we found out I was allergic to deer. And I also remember the fuji folk.

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  60. Knotts Berry Farm....I remember when it was just a Chicken Restaurant and a phony graveyard with a voice behind some bars in the makeshift "jail." Admission was.....drum roll....FREE! Then because too many hippies started hanging out there overnight, they beefed up security and began charging fifty cents for admission. My how it's changed.

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  61. I remember Japanese Deer Park. Feeding the Koi and the Deer, watching an audience member (did he really work there?) wrestle a bear, alot of other memories mentioned above and the overall beauty of the park. Truly a Park like no other in it's time. I know it is long gone but I fondly remember it.

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  62. I remember Japanese Deer Park. Feeding the Koi and the Deer, watching an audience member (did he really work there?) wrestle a bear, the sea theater show mentioned above and the overall beauty of the park.

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  63. When our family moved back to Orange County after my husband got transferred from his job in San Diego to Buena Park, the boys and I visited the Japanese Deer Park. The park was a lovely place. I thought it would be a good idea to buy yearly passes, just as we had done at Sea World when we lived in San Diego. Before we left the park at the end of our first visit, we bought the passes and had our pictures taken for them. Within the week, we read in the newspaper that the park was closing immediately. We had purchased very expensive ID cards, but the saddest part was the loss of being able to return to such a beautiful world.
    Connie Stafford Van Horn
    Fullerton Union High School
    Class of '53

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  64. I visited Enchanted Village (from Tucson, Az.) in the summer of '77. I still have a postcard of the Wilderness Theater. I hadn't realized it closed that fall and was only open for about 1 1/2 years.

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