Hang on for some zip-lining fun in Japan!
I yelled in delight as I zipped from tree to tree through the mountain forest. I was Tarzan and I had no fear.
I’m a big fan of outdoor adventure, and my zip line experience two years ago in Hakone, Japan, is one I’ll remember for the speed at which I flew through the lush greenness, some 60 feet above the forest floor.
Zip lining has grown into a popular ecological activity around the world the past several years. Even though today’s recreational zip lines are for thrill rides, their origin derives from the need to transport. According to zip line expert Kaoru Furukawa, manager of the outdoor adventure company Tarzania, in Chiba, Japan, the cables and pulleys threaded between two points were created to quickly transport supplies and people across canyons, rivers and mountains in remote areas of China in the 18th century, and are still used today for the same purpose in remote areas around the world.
In 1970s, graduate students from the U.S. began using zip lines to explore the canopy of the rainforest in Costa Rica. They strapped on their rock climbing harnesses to a belay line to ascend a tree. The technique improved throughout the years, allowing scientists to explore more of the jungle.
It was not too long before folks realized the entertainment value of zip lining, according to costa-rica-guide.com. Zip lining turned into a popular tourist in the Costa Rica rainforest mid-1990s, according to the website.
America’s first zip line was started in Maui, Hawaii, in 2002 by Haleakala Skyline Adventure. Today, there are thousands of zip lines across the U.S., whether it’s in someone’s backyard, a local park or at the former Olympic stadium in Utah.
Zip lining, often linked with other activities such as hiking and rafting, can offer different degrees of thrills, depending on length, height, altitude, angle and speed of the course.
And there are some crazy zip line courses around the world for thrill seekers.
At Gravity Canyon Flying Fox in New Zealand, you can zip slide at speeds ranging between 80 and 100 mile per hour. The course at Dragon’s Breath Flight Line in Haiti starts 500 feet above the beach and zips you for 2,600 feet as you take in the beautiful ocean scenery. And Mega Zips in Mega Cavern, Kentucky, is the only underground mining zip line in the world, according to louisvillemegacavern.com.
ZIPPING ALONG ON OKINAWA
On Okinawa, you can hook up to a zip line at Forest Adventure Onna, located near the famous diving spot of Maeda Point. 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, according to manager Bobby Parker. 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, Parker said.
Forest Adventure Onna is not only used for recreation by the U.S. military community on Okinawa, but also by troops for military training, Parker said.
“Monthly, 60 to 70 % of our customers are foreigners,” Parker said. “Besides zip line, our main attraction is a Tarzan Swing, which is a free fall that you have to jump off.”
The place is ideal for families, but because of safety issues, Parker said children must be at least 55 inches tall (140 cm). Zip liners can also not weigh more than 287 pounds or be pregnant, he said.
“When kids come out here, they have a blast,” Parker said, adding that there are 16 Forest Adventure facilities throughout Japan. “They really have a good time. Some people may be scared a little, but once we get them to trust the harness” they are on their way to a wonderful adventure.
The park’s staff provides safety instructions in English and Japanese, but visitors navigate the courses on their own. Parker said traversing all the wires, bridges and trees, climbing rope ladders and crawling in the scramble net keeps everyone on the move.
If you ever have a chance to visit the Kanto area in the mainland, you should check out the longest zip line (1,460-feet long) in Japan at Tarzania.
“The speed you get during zip lining in Tarzania is about 18.6 miles an hour,” said Tarzania manager Kaoru Furukawa. “In Japan, it is difficult to regulate something like a zip lining, but we maintain a safe course where you can enjoy the thrill of zip line. Come enjoy the slide.”
Forest Adventure Onna
Tel: 098-963-0088 (Reservations are needed!)
Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. No entry after 4 p.m. Closed for bad weather and holidays.
Price: 3,600 yen ($36) for adults and 2,600 yen ($26) for children under 18.
Family package: Family of three is 8,000 yen; family of four is 9,500 yen; and family of 5 is 11,000 yen.
How to get there: Take Highway 58 toward to Maeda Point. Take Highway 6 for roughly a half mile and watch for the Forest Adventure Park Office on your left.
Tarzania in Chiba has a 445m (1460 ft) – long zip line in their course, which is the longest zip line in Japan. Adventure course (3,600 yen) takes about 2 hours with 6 zip lines. It is located in Seimei no Mori Resort which has tennis court, pool and restaurant facilities. It is located about 90 mins drive from Tokyo.
Tel: 0474-35-00871 (Reservations are needed!)
Address: 521-4 Ueno, Nagara machi, Chouseigun, Chiba
How to get there: It is located in Seimei no Mori Resort which has tennis court, pool and restaurant facilities. It is a 90-minute drive from Tokyo.
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 around the world.