Saturday, December 17, 2016

Japanese Village and Deer Park, October 1972

I am happy to be able to share some new scans featuring the "Japanese Village and Deer Park", which was located right near Knott's Berry Farm, Movieland Wax Museum, and the Alligator Farm (not to mention a few miles from Disneyland). See some info in previous posts HERE and HERE

This was a place where visitors could see some animal shows (dolphins, seals, trained bears), Japanese dancers, visit peaceful gardens with koi and doves and deer (of course), and so much more!

This first photo shows one of the karate demonstrations. Hi-YA! There's punchin', kickin', flippin', and smashin'. Fun for the whole family, really. There was a suggestion box, and each year I tried to get them to include flame throwers, but some ideas are just too good, so it never happened. Notice the "Nabisco" sign just above the rooftops - a familiar sight to folks driving through Buena Park.

A trainer (?) sits near a dolphin pool to have a chat about... well, whatever it is dolphins like to talk about. Advanced mathematics, for instance. Painters of the Northern Renaissance. The latest in architectural trends. Let's face it, those dolphins are smart.

Here's a scene from the trained bear show. There's a furry fella up on that swing - my tiny brain almost remembers seeing this very trick being performed. It's been a while, folks. Apparently, bears have no fear of heights. But they love pic-a-nic baskets. Notice the hoop, probably set aflame, for some critter to leap through.

And finally, here's a lovely lady in a traditional polyester kimono, carrying a big chrysanthemum thingy. It's probably a purse full of Screaming Yellow Zonkers. What else could it possibly be? 

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to Japanese Village and Deer Park!


Nanook said...


I'm not certain just which scene has most-captured my curiosity: That high-swing' bear ("Swing it, Teddi-!"); or that giant turquoise bow atop that lady's hair; or that burnt orange polyester shirt, trimmed with that oddly-patterned collar.

In the end, I think I'd prefer sharing a bit of mutual deep thought with that dolphin-! (And then again, there's that lovely lady...).

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I think I say this every time you post pics of Japanese Village and Deer Park or Busch Gardens in Van Nuys, but....I MISS THIS PARK!!!

That arena in the first pic was also used for bear shows. The bears would come out of those doors labeled Chibi, Toko and Fujiko. They would take a basketball and shoot baskets through those two nets that are visible above the demonstrator's heads.

As for the pic with the bear on the swing, that arena was also used for seal shows and dolphin shows. And you already pointed out the hoop for the dolphins to jump through. Those arched steps were used for the seals to go over while carrying various items on their noses. By the way, the bears used to do multiple 360 degree loops on that swing! Now was that a very nice thing to do to a bear? Or to any animal for that matter? No wonder they come down from the mountains and want to swim in our pools and swing on our children's swing sets. It's our own fault, I tell ya. No, it really is!

Chuck said...

I never visited this park, but I really like the landscaping details. The use of bamboo to screen rear areas is particularly effective, inexpensive, and fits perfectly with the environment they were trying to recreate. I also like the way the dolphin pool is bordered; rather than a sharp edge, they've tried to make it look more natural, even adding a concrete "beach" at one end.

This post has me thinking about HR and EO issues this park might have today had it survived. While staffing the attraction with people of Japanese descent certainly helps add to the ambiance and reinforces the illusion that this is a piece of Japan transplanted into Orange County, would current interpretations of labor laws allow them to only hire people of one racial group? Does the desire to authentically (or semi-authentically) present a particular culture or time period allow an employer to selectively staff like that? I don't know the answer. I'd sure hate to visit Colonial Williamsburg and find a white person portraying an African-American slave.

TM!, homo-ursus interaction is actually driving bears to evolve at an accelerated rate. Not only are they demonstrating a desire to move out to the suburbs to have a backyard to play in, they are also developing a taste for country music. I've seen it myself.

K. Martinez said...

All those wonderful smaller Southern California attractions gone. I miss the more low key relaxing themed parks like this.

A purse full of Screaming Yellow Zonkers?! I prefer to think it was filled with Fiddle-Faddle.

These photos are actually quite professional looking on a pictorial or postcard level of quality. Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Screaming Yellow Zonkers and Fiddle Faddle....that's Poppycock! I remember those products, but I had to look them up to see if they were subtle plugs to go buy Nabisco products! Apparently, they aren't made by Nabisco! By the way, that Nabisco plant was torn down about 10 years ago. I talked to a guy that worked there and he said it was a big deal when it opened and that it was so automated, it only took a few people to run the entire place.

Chuck, you aren't too far off with that comment. I have a pic taken in that first arena of a bear wearing a cowboy hat and sitting in a rocking chair....although he/she wasn't playing a musical instrument! I have been really wanting to do a JVP post, but I keep putting it off. The pics I have are not this nice, as they were taken by a child (my brother).

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that burnt orange is the greatest color in existence. Particularly when applied to deep shag carpeting. And polyester shirts.

TokyoMagic!, maybe today’s families are just not interested in a small, gentle park like Japanese Village, or Jungleland, or even the old Busch Gardens. I’m sure my grandparents loved them in part because you would be done in just a few hours! Yes, I have photos of bear shows in that same arena (from a different batch), and I think I’ve already posted some dolphin or seal show photos from the bear/swing arena. As for the bears, maybe they actually enjoyed the 360 loops? How the heck did they train them to do that, I want to know.

Chuck, you make an interesting point - I’m not sure how I feel about it, to be honest. On one hand, it doesn’t bother me if they hire strictly Asians for this small park; but then again, I don’t like the idea of somebody being turned down for a job because they are non-Asian. I’m sure that had the park survived, they would have had to hire people of different ethnicities. Does Colonial Williamsburg actually have African Americans portraying slaves?! That seems fairly astounding to me; even if it’s historically accurate, I would think that guests might find it problematic. I don’t mind bears playing country music, because it’s not my thing! But when they get into punk rock, then we’ll be in trouble.

K. Martinez, I don’t know… as a kid, half of the appeal of Screaming Yellow Zonkers was the name. “Fiddle Faddle” sounds like something my grandma would say!

TokyoMagic!, no, I wasn’t trying to make a connection to Nabisco - it never occurred to me. I think my brother said that he actually saw packages of Screaming Yellow Zonkers not that long ago, though I find that hard to believe. You should post your brother’s pix of JVP - I look forward to the big white ovals over the faces! ;-)

Unknown said...

Ah, well, another park I never got around to visiting. That, along with "Jungle Island", must remain a lacuna in my childhood memories.

Chuck said...

Major, at one time (not sure about now), Colonial Williamsburg did have a re-enactment scenario in the historic area where an African-American actor would portray an escaping slave and interact with guests in character. I remember reading that it was a pretty effective presentation - kids would try to hide him when "the Authorities" came along looking for him.

Nanook said...


And of course "Fiddle Faddle" was a Leroy Anderson tune popular in the 1950's, when that sort of music (light classical) was still in-favor. Too bad it's all gone away.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I also have home movie footage of the bears on that swing and it looks as if the bears might not have been making the swing move. So, all they really had to teach the bears to do was HOLD ON! I still don't think that was a nice thing to do to the poor animals. Of course as a kid, I thought it was great. Speaking of being a kid, I loved rides, but I was still perfectly happy to get to go to these smaller parks with few or no rides at all.

It looks like my brother shot a whole role of film at Japanese Village and out of all the pics, only one of them would need the white blobs! Unless I wanted to protect the identity of the bears, dolphins and tigers!

When I was looking up the maker of Screaming Yellow Zonkers, I read that they were discontinued after the original company that made them was purchased by ConAgra in 2007. But then I read where they started making them exclusively for Walgreens in 2012.

Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick Devlin, I’m surprised your family never made it to JV. Maybe the kids were just a little too mature for such gentle fare?

Chuck, man, I can hardly imagine watching that “escaped slave” scenario. How things have changed!

Nanook, I don’t know the song “Fiddle Faddle”, but my mom used to play Leroy Anderson’s “Trumpeter’s Lullaby” a lot when I was a little kid.

TokyoMagic!, I honestly wonder who even dreamed that a bear would ever be able to do such a stunt? Crazy. I’d like to believe that the animals at JV were well cared for, but even so I agree with you, it doesn’t seem like a nice way to treat them. Thanks for sending the link to your dad’s footage of Japanese Village! 2012 sounds about right, that’s probably around when my brother told me that he’d seen Screaming Yellow Zonkers. I was mad at him for not buying any!

Mark H. Besotted said...

Good news, Major!
There's a box of Screaming Yellow Zonkers on eBay right now. For ten bucks, you can have four year-old popcorn in your house for New Year's Eve.
What a bargain.

Major Pepperidge said...

Mark H. Besotted, hm, not so sure I want Screaming Yellow Zonkers THAT much! I was sort of hoping they might still carry them at Walgreens. I guess not, if somebody is peddling old boxes on eBay. Bummer!

Anonymous said...

Major, these are good to see. We visited this park only once. My mom objected to stepping in the deer poop in the petting area.

@Chuck, the concrete beach element in the pool was part of the show, the dolphins came up on the "sand" to deliver a lecture on Japanese wood joinery in architecture.

Several of my professors in architecture school were dolphins. They were experts in waterproofing design. Bright articulate folks, those dolphins, and they can really eat sushi.


Matthew said...

In the first photo you can see the top of the old NABISCO (NAtional BIScuit COmpany) sign near Knott Ave. and Artesia Blvd. I remember when they tore that building down. Very sad. It used to a be a "landmark" on the way to Disneyland. Read more here

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle