Connect with us


Massive Jungle Theme Park to Open in Okinawa

Junglia, a new theme park nestled in the beautiful natural environment of Okinawa, is poised to rival Universal Studios Japan in scale.



Tsuyoshi Morioka (center), the President and CEO of Katana, at a press conference on November 27, in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. (©Sankei by Keiko Tamura)

A massive theme park called "Junglia" is set to open in 2025. It is being constructed on the grounds of a former golf course spanning Nago and Nakijin in Okinawa prefecture. The announcement was made on November 27 by Tsuyoshi Morioka, the President and CEO of the Osaka-based marketing firm Katana.

Morioka played a pivotal role in the V-shaped recovery of Universal Studios Japan (USJ). He conceptualized the new theme park in Okinawa while working at USJ LLC, the company that operates USJ. Accordingly, in 2015, USJ LLC announced plans to expand its operations into Okinawa. The project enjoyed support from then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. However, the plan fell through when USJ LCC changed hands. Undeterred, Morioka started his own firm, Katana, to realize his vision. Now, his tenacity is finally paying off.

During a press conference on November 27, Morioka shared, "Although we haven't accomplished anything yet, one percent of me feels glad that we've finally made it this far. But that feeling is overwhelmed by the pressure to meet the expectations of everyone involved in the project."

Okinawa's Tourism Potential

Spanning 60 hectares of the 120-hectare former golf course, Junglia will be even bigger than USJ. The location boasts additional perks, including its proximity to the forested Yambaru region, a natural World Heritage Site. The theme park will leverage the backdrop of the natural forest and incorporate technology to create the atmosphere of the jungle. 

With expected investment funds of about ¥70 billion JPY ($477 million USD), Junglia is slated to offer dozens of attractions. Notably, the remaining area of the former golf course is earmarked for a potential hotel development.

Bird's-eye view rendering of Junglia, set to open in Okinawa in 2025. (Provided by Japan Entertainment)

Furthermore, Katana aims to expand Junglia to multiple locations overseas after accumulating experience and know-how in Okinawa. Morioka said, "This should stimulate new investments. It will also have a major ripple effect on Japan's tourism and other industries." 

He further pointed out that "Okinawa hasn't been able to raise the tourism value of many of its assets" unlike Hawaii, which draws tourists from around the world. That means Okinawa has "huge growth potential," he explained.

Taking on USJ

In 2015, while Morioka was still at USJ LLC, the company announced its intention to expand operations into Okinawa. At that time, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga stated that the "government wants to give [USJ LLC] as much support as possible."


Later on, USJ LCC was acquired by the American cable television company Comcast. The envisioned theme park in Okinawa faced cancellation as the new parent company expressed reservations. In January 2017, a year after the cancellation was announced, Morioka parted ways with USJ LCC and established Katana.

In preparation for its new theme park in Okinawa, Katana set up Japan Entertainment in Nago as the company's primary shareholder. Collaborating with local government and businesses, Morioka's plan gained momentum.

Embracing its slogan "Power Vacation!" Junglia promises plenty of thrills. It will offer hot air balloon rides for a breathtaking view of the forest. Another highlight will be a ride through the forest in an armored vehicle to evade approaching dinosaurs.

Morioka claimed that the dinosaurs in Junglia would be "even more ferocious than those in the other theme park," implying the Jurassic Park ride at USJ.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Keiko Tamura

Our Partners