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Tokyo: Kamataen Rooftop Park Features Ferris Wheel

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Ferris wheel that has been beloved by local people for three generations

A small Ferris wheel adorning the top of a Tokyo commercial complex is a symbol of the Kamata area of Ota Ward, Tokyo, for local residents whose enthusiasm helped preserve the attraction.

The wheel, measuring about 13 meters in height and taking slightly more than three minutes to make one complete revolution, can be found at the Kamataen rooftop park, atop the Tokyu Plaza Kamata commercial complex. It is the only Ferris wheel to be found on a commercial building’s roof in Tokyo. Such rides are also a rare find in other areas of the country.

The wheel’s existence had been under threat, and the Kamataen rooftop park had been closed in the past.

On a weekday afternoon in March, children got out of the Ferris wheel smiling and saying “That was fun!”

“I want to ride that next!,” one of them said, before moving over to pedal rides that were shaped like a train and a bus.

The rooftop park measures about 2,000 square meters. Visitors of all ages could be seen enjoying themselves in a relaxed atmosphere as time slowly passed by.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Children are seen playing at the Kamataen park.
The Yomiuri Shimbun
People of all ages relax in the area.

Kamataen opened in 1968 as part of the Kamata Tokyu building (now Tokyu Plaza Kamata). The park was operated by Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Co. (now Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.), a company set up to run rooftop amusement park businesses. The original “castle Ferris wheel” was the centerpiece of the park. The Ferris wheel has been renovated several times since, and is popular with visitors who were children when the park opened, as well as with their children and grandchildren.

Courtesy of Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.
The “castle Ferris wheel,” which was used for more than 20 years after the opening of the rooftop park in 1968

However, the park once faced a bleak future. One by one, amusement parks started disappearing from the rooftops of department stores. As leisure activities began to diversify during the Heisei era (1989-2019), parks that entertained children during the Showa era (1926-89) had trouble adapting, and those on department stores’ rooftops slowly began to disappear. In 2014, when the Kamata building was under renovation, Kamataen’s operating company considered closing the park and removing the Ferris wheel.

A week before the park’s closure, the company allowed customers to ride the Ferris wheel for free. About 12,000 people came to ride the attraction, and the company received many requests to keep the Ferris wheel turning. “Both the rooftop park and the Ferris wheel are treasures of Kamata,” and “I would like you to keep the rooftop park because I have grown together with this place” are some examples of the comments received. Encouraged by such words, the company decided to reopen the rooftop park after the building’s renovation was completed. The Ferris wheel was renamed “Shiawase no Kanransha” (Ferris wheel of happiness), a name selected from publicly solicited ideas.

“The facility has been supported by locals. I am not sure whether they would have loved the facility as much as they do now if the Ferris wheel had been removed,” said Takashi Isobe, 45, an official at Tokyu Kamata Plaza.

As people and the town change, the small rooftop Ferris wheel still revolves slowly and pleasantly on.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Kamataen

Address: 7-69-1 Nishi-Kamata, Ota Ward, Tokyo

Access: Directly connected to JR and Tokyu Kamata stations and located on the rooftop of the Tokyu Plaza Kamata commercial complex.

Hours: From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (to 5 p.m. from Dec. 1 to the end of February)