Revel in flamenco & parades on Spanish streets, then relax and recharge in the hot springs!

Revel in flamenco & parades on Spanish streets, then relax and recharge in the hot springs!

Finally, I got the chance to visit Shima Spain Village in Shima City, Mie Prefecture, a resort where the cityscape of Spain has been reborn replete with mucho mucho fun, from a theme park to a hot spring facility, a hotel and more! To get there, we took the Kintetsu Railway’s limited express train for about 2.5 hours from Namba Station in Osaka to the nearest station, Ugata Station. From there, the bus whisks you to Shima Spain Village direct in just 13 minutes.

Right now, the park is bursting with special events to celebrate its 30th anniversary on April 22nd, 2024 (until January 13th, 2025). For the first time in ten years, parades are being held, reborn as the new must-see spectacle España Carnival “Buen Viaje.” Inspired by the wonders of travel, the unique personalities of the Shima Spain Village Friends wow the crowd through flamboyant pop music and dance. The vibrant music was so uplifting I found myself humming it all day.

Another highlight is the large screen where performers use cameras on selfie sticks to capture the smiling faces of the audience. When people’s faces appear onscreen, every person has their own way to spread the joy, whether waving, posing, or snapping a selfie. Turning the tables, when I pointed my camera at the entertainers, they all smiled brightly and waved, making my heart jump for joy. The grand finale features time for everyone to dance and excitement swept through the crowd. I really felt like I had, for a moment, been transported to Spain. (Until December 1st, 2024, app.25 m.).

Seeing the new flamenco show “Opera Prima,” was another chance to really feel like being in Spain while in Japan (cost: 600 yen, free for children under 2 years old, online reservations required). Choreographed by the highly acclaimed Spanish stage artist Daniel Doña, this innovative performance goes beyond traditional flamenco and blends elements of ballet. The power of the Spanish dancers was overwhelming, and I could feel their breath and see the passion of each performer up-close onstage. The sound of their footwork echoing through the theater, the smoky stage effects illuminating their shapes brilliantly, and their way of weaving fabric into the dance all left me spellbound. Solo female dance numbers join the group ensemble scenes for a varied show that never lets up for a beat. (2-3 times a day for about 25 minutes until December 1, 2024).

If that wasn’t enough, another hot item is the collaboration event with Suo Sango and Hyakumantenbara Salome, both members of the Virtual Youtuber group Nijisanji (until May 10, 2024). The event includes a “rally” to pick up original stickers at many points throughout the park, special video screenings, and lots of original goods and sweets to snap up. Life-sized panels of the stars create a photo spot you won’t want to miss for the perfect pic.

We also stopped by Churreria, the churro shop that Suo Sango declared as the most delicious in the whole world.
Don’t forget to immortalize the moment with a photo of churros in hand! Seeing these pastries made into stuffed animals as souvenirs was another big surprise. These days all the fans can’t wait to check out the photo spots, decorations, and postcards at Ugata Station, nearest to Shima Spain Village, even including special announcements on the Shima Line Limited Express trains.

A stay at Hotel Shima Spain Village on the park grounds is definitely worth thinking about when visiting the area. The park and hotel are directly connected through a gateway, so it’s easy to leave the park, take a break at the hotel, and then head back out for more.
The seasonal beauty of the courtyard makes it an ideal place for shutterbugs year-round! A leisurely stroll and a chat with friends here early in the morning or around sunset is a relaxing escape from everyday life.
Like the plates with designs that express the chic Spanish sense of style, you’re sure to want to take pictures of all the charming Spanish arts and crafts here.

Newly renovated for the 30th-anniversary, the room “Buen viaje” has a resort-like atmosphere that brings to mind the white walls of villages in the Andalusian region of southern Spain. The ocean view from the window was a soothing sight. Guests are also free to enjoy the “Himawari no Yu” hot spring to their heart’s content for free (except the bathing tax of 150 yen for junior high school students and above), perfect to reinvigorate tired muscles after a full day of fun. With the pleasures of the park still echoing in our minds, closing the day on our “Hocance” in this resort hotel overflowing with the beauty of southern Spain really felt like I had traveled across the sea.

On the train trip home, I followed the suggestion by one of the cast members and treated myself to the 30th-anniversary special “Polvorón.” The scrumptious dessert had the flavor of the classic Spanish dessert, “Crema Catalana.”

Accessible via Kintetsu Limited Express trains, Shima Spain Village is an easy trip from Kyoto and Nagoya as well. So, for anyone planning a Kansai vacation, consider a sojourn to experience a mini-trip to a faraway land.

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