In honour of the astronomer in the family, who is celebrating a non-prime number birthday today, we’ll explore space. Not just any space, but an unreasonable paranoid facsimile thereof. For further mind warpage, check out the birthday-related links on my unchi post from a few days ago. Ok. Got your flight suits on? Ready for a journey among the stars? Let’s begin.

Japan is a land of technology. Robots, video games, and computerized toilets are but a few of the high-tech marvels. There’s also a fairly-well developed aerospace industry. How does a country that has made mimicry of the west its stock-in-trade for better part of the last hundred years represent its star-gazing ambitions?

Build a space centre, of course.

space shuttle with old man in foreground

Space World sits just on the other side of a hill from us. In a demonstration of technology transfer at its best, there’s a space shuttle complete with NASA markings. The casual visitor to Kitakyushu might wonder whether the American space program has created an alternate testing site. Yes, there’s no better way to disguise your government’s plans for world domination through strategic laser-equipped satellites than by building a facility in the middle of a heavily-populated area of a foreign country. A country famous for space combat robots.

But back to the picture. What’s that turquoise metal stuff winding its away around the shuttle? If you guessed that it’s the latest in advanced scaffolding and loading systems, you’d be wrong. No, it’s much more glamourous than that. It’s a jet coaster. What’s a jet coaster? In Canada we call them roller coasters. And the big green horizontal things in the background are an expressway. I repeat: an expressway. There’s no reason for you to think that it’s a high-speed link to the secret moon base.

Once the envy of scientists worldwide, NASA now licences its brand to Japanese theme park operators. Here, the finest in late-twentieth-century reusable spacecraft technology is mere set decoration. How the mighty have fallen. Or so they want us to think. If you want to read for yourself what “they” want us to know about Space World, you can visit their official site. My computer has an aluminum case so I’m shielded from dangerous transmissions. Be sure to take appropriate precautions if you are not already doing so. Here’s the link to the official Space World web site.

Here are a couple of views of the secret research facility, taken from strategic vantage points in the nearby hills. Looking west from the Edamitsu area towards Ashiya-machi.

view of Space World looking west from Edamitsu hills

Space World as seen from the Yahata hills near Mount Sarakura, looking towards Wakamatsu Ward.

closeup view of Space World from Yahata hills, looking towards Wakamatsu

Here’s a closeup of the view towards Wakamatsu. No one was able to confirm for me whether or not the small wind farm on the coast is a decoy for the coldfusion generators hidden deep underground. I was able to ascertain that, despite all of the concrete, industrial infrastructure, and all reports to the contrary, the sea is in fact nearby.

view of Space World from Yahata hills, looking towards Wakamatsu

Space World is about 3km from us if you measure as the crow flies. But there’s an extremely steep hill—steeper than my commute to work—that I’d guess is about 150m tall, and a maze of residential streets between us. Still, it’s close enough that in the summer if the conditions are right we often see the flashes from light shows that they project onto the clouds. The first few times I saw them, I thought the mother ship was coming for me. There’s also a private rail line that according to the maps I was able to translate belongs to Nippon Steel. Coincidentally, the train passes through a tunnel in the hill that takes it right next to Space World. It’s even camouflaged with a friendly-looking alligator.

Here’s the tunnel. I took this picture about a block from our apartment. You can get an idea of the size of the hill from the apartment buildings at the very top.

secret space agency tunnel behind our apartment

And here’s the engine of the alligator train, as viewed from our balcony. This was one of the few daytime sightings. It’s generally noctural. No one has been willing to explain to me what exactly it’s up to.

the alligator train

I’ve only ever looked at Space World in passing, so I can’t show you what it looks like from the inside. From the outside it’s possible to see a couple of roller coasters, other rides, various themed buildings, and the Ferris wheel (here it’s called a big wheel). My theory is that the big wheel is, in fact, a giant antenna powered by the orgone energy of the couples inside its gondolas. If my suspicions about the Big Bang Plaza are true, then that’s a facility where energy is similarly channeled for the manufacture of explosives. Come to think of it, if I had ever been through the gates at Space World, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you what happens there.

Here’s the big wheel, also know as The Space Eye, with the decoy space shuttle in the background.

space shuttle and big wheel at Space World

Strangely, Space World has few images of Roswell-style aliens. Instead, there is a motley assortment of crazed-looking cartoon animal mascots. They look like a cross between Ren & Stimpy, Disney & Warner Bros characters drawn from memory, and an attempt to paint over the absurdity with a heavy coating of cute. The cuteness fails. Think big-eyed, strung-out rodents in space suits. Perhaps these are the poster children of the “amusement” process.

Though I haven’t been inside the enclosure, Lia went to Space World with her school last year, and will go again next week for her school’s ensouku, or beginning-of-the-year annual mind control and energy extrac… school trip. This trip is an annual tradition at many schools. Last year during ensoku season I remember the trains being crowded with high school students on their way to Space World. Jarrod’s school goes to a park and zoo called Itozu no Mori Koen. The zoo is about 2km from our apartment and coincidentally is also equipped with a big wheel. Hmmmmm. When I asked at my school, where people are generally pretty snooty about being smarter than most (they have the test scores to prove it), about the ensoku tradition, I got a tight-lipped “We don’t do that at this school.” Double-hmmmmm.

Here’s a picture of Lia inside the Space World compound. I suspect that the poor image quality may be due to unidentified sources of radiation.

Lia being escorted by space world's demented duo

Jarrod has also been to Space World. He’s gone with his daycare a few times. Not on ensoku, but simply because it’s one of the field trips they do. Today he’s at a big park and zoo area called Green Park, in the Kitakyushu hinterlands of Wakamatsu, where to my knowledge they don’t have an orgone collector big wheel.