31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park
By Larry K. & Lorna Collins
iUniverse Inc. (2005)
Reviewed by Kelli Glesige for Reader Views (3/06)
Co-author Larry K. Collins was a project engineer assigned to the
construction of the amusement park Universal Studios Japan, and
Lorna, his wife was in Document Control. For 31 months, Larry and
Lorna lived in Japan during the building of Universal Studios Japan,
moving to Osaka in August 1998 from their permanent home in Dana
Point, California until the park opened on March 31, 2001. “31
Months in Japan” is the story of the culture shocks the Collins
encountered, the wonderful friends they made, and the sharing of their
many interesting challenges and adventures, beginning with the first
obstacle in May 1998 when they learned their building site was
contaminated and the subsequent 18 month clean-up.
“31 Months in Japan” will entice those curious about traveling to or
possibly living in Japan. The behind the scenes work that goes on
during the construction of a theme park is also covered, so if you are
enthralled with all the plans that go into building a theme park from the
obtaining of the land until the gates are opened to the public, you will
The book is written like a journal, Larry writing about his encounters
as a project engineer, working on the Jurassic Park and JAWS water
rides, along with the Water World show, then Lorna sharing her
experiences with obtaining housing, cooking and working in Japan.
They cover the gamut in telling us about Japanese fashions, home
furnishings, festivals, holidays, weather, roadways, maps, parking,
waste removal system, communal bathing, golf, rituals, work ethic,
appropriate social behavior, and obtaining and preparing familiar food.
At the beginning of each chapter, a new Japanese word is introduced
with its pronunciation and meaning, and we are then told a story of
how that Japanese word relates to an encounter shared by the Collins.
By the end of the book, we should have a few Japanese words in our
The differences between America and Japan were eye opening. Larry
experienced driving with only ½” between his left front tire and a three
foot ditch running along the side of the road. When passing another
vehicle, Larry relates there would be only a scant ¼” space between
the two vehicles door-to-door. Also, before purchasing a car in Japan,
the Collins learned one must first have an assigned place to park it. A
final random thought I found interesting was that American pizza in
Japan has corn atop, is drizzled with mayonnaise, and has toppings of
seafood and seaweed.
The Collins eagerly and enthusiastically share with us their experiences
of Japan. They tell us about Jurassic Mark, Raouf Iskander, the
Nihon Cowboy, their Japanese “daughter” Yasuko and Jurassic Jack.
The Collins came back changed individuals but only for the better. It
is obvious of the great love they felt for the many special friendships
solidified by their times in Japan. The Collin’s book is a tribute to the
great number of colorful personalities that came together to make the
building of Universal Studios Japan a success!