Zippin’ around Japan
Looking for an exciting outdoor experience to take your family or group of friends this summer? How about a zip-lining course through a Japanese forest?
If you are located on NAF Atsugi or any other base in the Kanto Plain and are looking for something wild, challenging and extraordinary, Tree Cross Adventure Atsugi Nanasawa may be just what you seek.
Situated in a hilly terrain of Nanasawa, Atsugi City, the 270,000-square-foot attraction is less than an hour drive away from center of Tokyo, about 40-minutes from NAF Atsugi and within a couple of hours from any other military installation in the Kanto Plain.
Recently, I visited the park with my wife to enjoy the 2-hour adventure made up of zip line, Tarzan swing and other activities in the fresh air of the forest.
When we arrived, we saw visitors enjoying the zip lining along the steel lines that connected the tall ce-dar tree. We were a bit nervous as a couple in our 50s, but were calmed by one of the park’s co-owners, Jesper Mortensen.
Mortensen fitted us with a harness and safety gear, before giving us a 15-minute briefing about safety and how to zip line. Once we were able to demonstrate that we’d could perform as needed, we were off to enjoy the six adventure courses and 42 activities independently.
According to Mortensen, the park was built in compliance with European safety standards with the so-called “self-belay system.” The systems allows you to enjoy your adventure at your own pace, without help of instructors and others, as long as you use the fitted safety equipment properly.
“It is one of our most attractive features, as it puts you in charge, and it means the experience is serious as well as fun,” Mortensen said.
The course itself is laid out nicely, as it starts with an easy activity and gradually gets tougher as you pro-ceeded. With each activity to finish, you become more and more comfortable with the gear, which helps in the tougher sections.
After we finished a couple of courses, we found ourselves free from fear and just excited to challenge the various obstacles high in the trees. One of the platforms was nearly 50-feet above the ground, or the equivalent to a five-story building.
The variety of courses include activities, such as zip line, Tarzan swing, bouldering and more.
The bouldering wall situated 40-feet above the ground, was the toughest obstacle for me, while my wife had no problem with it. Swinging on the Tarzan swing was really thrilling, too. I couldn’t help but scream while dropping into the deep valley, as if I were the King of the Jungle.
The highlight of the adventure is a 570-foot long zip line over 100 feet above the ground. After complet-ing all the various other activities, this giant zip line felt rewarding. The 20-second long zip line that runs about 24 miles per hour, felt as if we were truly flying through the woods, and gave us a great view of Nanasawa Town.
“It is a good escape from the busy city life,” Mortensen said. “Many of our visitors get a real stress relief after the workout.”
He was right - at the end of it, there was a sense of accomplishment. We had completed the exciting course and our sore mid-50s bodies was a reminder.
Mortensen and his partner, Yoichi Miyoshi, opened the park in December after finding the spacious for-est with hilly terrain and lots of tall trees near the center of Tokyo.
Nanasawa, where the park is located is an attractive town in itself, and is home to seven natural hot springs and various tasty restaurants.
“After a fun workout in our park there is no better way than to finish the day with a dip in the hot springs,” Mortensen said.
While the main activities allow for ages 10 and above, young ones can enjoy the park with various facili-ties just for kids, including a swing, 82-foot zip line and trampoline. Park staff is on hand to help look af-ter them.
With Mortensen and other English-speaking instructors, the park is English-friendly.
Reservation is recommended to avoid waiting, as they accept only 15 visitors every 30 minutes.
Zip Line in Okinawa
Open since 2008, Forest Adventure offers eight zip lines on its course, with the longest one running 426.5 feet with a high point of 98 feet above the ground. There are also 33 obstacle courses to challenge you in this natural forest setting. It takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to finish the whole course.
Location: 1525 Meda, Onna-son, Kunigamigun, Okinawa
Admission: 3,600 yen ($34) for adult, 2,600 yen ($24) for ages 10-17
URL: www.tarzania.jp/index.html (On-line reservation needed)
Known as the Japan’s first zip lining over the sea, you can enjoy 820-feet long zip lining over 43 feet above the sea. Another activity “Go Fall” is an attraction that makes you dive from the 43-feethigh platform into the ground.
Location: 66-1 Fuchaku aza Onna-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa
Admission: 2,000 yen ($18) (Mega Zip & Go Fall)
JUNGLE TREK TOUR AND ZIP-LINES IN ISHIGAKIJIMA
Zip-line through untouched sub-tropical rainforest in Ishigakijima Island with a guide enables you to meet the island’s unique wildlife. When the trail ends, you use a series of zip lines to return to the starting point. This is an exciting and eco-friendly way to travel through the jungle.
Location: 1820-32 Ishigaki, Ishigaki City, Okinawa
Admission: 6,500 yen ($60)
World Wide Zip Line: www.worldwidezipline.com
This site helps you to find zip line tours and get to know the expert zip line companies from all over the world.