Japan Invades China! ... Year-Round, at This Theme Park in Shanxi

It's not unlike Six Flags, only with guns (and real flags).


What would you get if you were able to mix Red Dawn with both a Civil War battle reenactment and Disneyland, and then translated the whole thing into Chinese? At the Eighth Route Army Culture Park in Shanxi province, named after the Communist military unit that fought behind Japanese lines in the 1940s, visitors can dress up as either Chinese or Japanese troops and pretend to blast away at each other with toy guns.

Complete with staffers who play out scenes of Japanese oppression for the patriotic benefit of Chinese onlookers, the theme park is also equipped with a shooting-gallery attraction that takes would-be soldiers through a model village populated with fake targets, as well as trenches where tourists do battle in live-action role-playing games. The park cost the local government about $80 million to put together. At a time when anti-Japanese sentiment is running high in China over the two countries' island dispute in the East China Sea, the theme park seems to have hit on a timely business opportunity.

RTR39FCA-615.jpgVisitors use toy weapons to shoot at pictures of Japanese military soldiers. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39F9E-615.jpgA boy dressed as a Japanese military soldier runs in a trench during a live-action role-playing scenario based on the computer game, "Stalker." (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39F8F-615.jpgA man dressed as an Eighth Route Army soldier checks his toy weapons before a game. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39FC6-615.jpgPictures of Japanese military soldiers are displayed as targets. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39F8T-615.jpgA boy dressed as an Eighth Route Army soldier aims down the sights of his toy gun during a live-action role-playing game. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39F96-615.jpgA man dressed in Japanese gear pretends to fire his weapon at Chinese troops. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39F9M-615.jpgAn actor dressed as a Japanese military officer performs during a show. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39F9J-615.jpgActors' performances at the Eighth Route Army Culture Park can involve elaborate visual effects. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39F7L-615.jpgAn actor dressed as a Japanese military officer pretends to kill a man dressed as a plainclothes Eighth Route Army soldier. (Jason Lee/Reuters)
RTR39F8O-615.jpgActors dressed in Japanese gear pretend to shoot a man during a live-action performance. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39FC4-615.jpgStaffers dressed as Eighth Route Army soldiers stand near toy weapons. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39FCJ-615.jpgWooden guns are placed next to portraits of late Chairman Mao Zedong, right, and late commander-in-chief Zhu De. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39F8W-615.jpgA woman dressed as a Japanese soldier walks in a trench during a live-action role-playing scenario. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39F94-615.jpgA woman dressed in Japanese gear pretends to fire her toy gun at Chinese soldiers. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39FBY-615.jpgPerformers wave large red flags during a large scale live-action show. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39FBX-615.jpgLocal villagers dressed as Eighth Route Army soldiers march during a large-scale show. (Jason Lee/Reuters)

RTR39FAH-615.jpgA man sits next to a sculpture of soldiers and local residents outside the Eighth Route Army Culture Park. (Jason Lee/Reuters)
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Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

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