The image of my nightmares (Photo: Justin Velgus)

Dinosaur Hall of Nihonmatsu

A scary and aging dinosaur hall inside a safari park

The image of my nightmares (Photo: Justin Velgus)
Justin Velgus   - 2 min read

The Dinosaur Hall is located inside and included with the price of admission to Tohoku Safari Park. This un-staffed, somewhat run-down, but still educational facility is something lost in time. It is a hodgepodge of mini exhibitions contrasted with plus size dinosaur models. It is all in Japanese, but no matter what language you speak it is sure to be memorable...if only in your nightmares.

A step inside starts off innocently enough. There are rock specimens, fossils, dino egg models and dinosaur bones, right next to Jomon era Stone Age tools. This despite dinosaurs living millennia​ before humans ever existed. After a brief distraction of science and learning, you hear a mysterious rhythmic squeaking coming from around the corner. It is a massive animatronic triceratops shaking its head back and forth as if saying, ''No, don't go this way!'' After already seeing a disgruntled looking long-necked dinosaur with an expression as if he just took a whiff of thick cigar smoke, I thought I was ready for anything.

Next I entered an eerily quiet and dimly-lit hall. The only light was coming from the accent of blood red lights illuminating what was all around me. As my eyes adjusted to the horror, my heart began to race. Tens of animals, maybe over a hundred, filled every space alongside the narrow walkway snaking through the long hall. I had the impression the deers, lions, and other animals were once alive. The crude, neglected taxidermy lead to some animals missing body parts. They all seemed to be staring at me and I was fearful one would suddenly reanimate and attack. I would not recommend bringing small children to this part of the dinosaur hall.

Before exiting, there is one more surprise. There inside its glass tomb, you can see the body of the first panda that ever came to Japan and once lived in Ueno Zoo. Why it is here in Fukushima Prefecture is just one more mystery of Japan. With some education, fun scares, and being basically free upon entry to the safari park, do check out the Dinosaur Hall for something different during your travels.

Justin Velgus

Justin Velgus @justin.velgus

Justin Velgus (ジャスティン ベルガス) is the Miyagi Prefecture expert for Japan Travel and a long-term contributor since 2012 with a focus on the Tohoku region.  Justin has written extensively for JT, and other publications such as VisitMiyagi and Sake Today, amassing over 350 published articles...