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Japanese ‘spa-amusement’ park draws in the crowds

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A spa-themed amusement park, which first started as an internet campaign intended to promote the 2,000 onsens (or hot springs) in the Japanese city of Beppu, became a reality this month.

The existing Rakutenchi theme park in Beppu was “re-purposed” over a single weekend and renamed “Yu-Enchi” – a play on the words fun and spa – with a number of rides being transformed into having an onsen theme.

Riders on the park’s roller coaster were drenched in soapy foam before going out onto the track, a merry-go-round featuring bath tubs was introduced and a number of spa-themed group activities were organised around the park.

The park is a result of a tongue-in-cheek video – showing guests sitting in a roller coaster, waist deep in onsen water – launched by the mayor Beppu last year.

Mayor Yasuhiro Nagano promised to make the ‘spamusement park’ a reality if the video got one million views – which it did in the matter of days.

Beppu is famous for having more than 2,000 onsen – or hot springs – and the video was part of the mayor’s plans to promote the city as a wellness tourism destination.

Once the 1m view milestone had been hit, Nagano kept his promise and the city raised more than ¥33m ($US300,000) through crowdfunding alone in order to bring the park to life.

The park was opened for three days – from 29 July to 31 August – and attracted more than 12,000 visitors.

See the original video of the park below

The media attention created by the park and the viral campaign over the past year has seemingly worked, too.

In June, hotel giant InterContinentalGroup (IHG) announced that it would be opening its first ever onsen resort in Beppu in 2019.

The ANA InterContinental Beppu Resort & Spa will include a public onsen bath, spa and pool, and the 89 bedrooms will each feature their own private onsen with water from a local hot spring.

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A spa-themed amusement park, which first started as an internet campaign intended to promote the 2,000 onsens (or hot springs) in the Japanese city of Beppu, became a reality this month.
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The 'spamusement' park included a roller coaster filled with foam
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