Usually whenever I had a few consecutive days off 15 years ago I would be hopping on a plane and flying off to another country. However, I did spend the occasional long weekend in Tokyo and this particular one was very busy and full of activity.
Day One: Tokyo’s Least Known Swimming Pool
My friend Ethan loved theme-parks, and we went to a fair few of them over the years such as Fuji-Q Highlands, Hawaiian Spa Resort, Nagashima Spa-Land, Toshimaen and even Six Flags Magic Mountain in the USA. The one we went to on the first day of this busy three day weekend was Tokyo Summerland which is a big water amusement park in north-west Tokyo.
I had previously visited the place a couple of years earlier and the indoor swimming pool was a sight to behold for all the wrong reasons! When the wave machine came into operation every hour it was like a packed football terrace but in water. It was complete pandimonium and without an inflatable ring (a Japanese obsession in these places!) I got very scratched each time someone flowed into me.
The man-made waves were fun and a good size too and thankfully it was nowhere near as packed on this occasion although it did seem that without the crowds something was missing!!
Unfortunately, the huge dipping freefall and speed slides outside were closed and the tunnel-type slides which were new to me weren’t that exciting. The assault course (very unstable stepping stones/floats/logs with a net to grab on to hanging above) was interesting but physically tough at times and the highlight of the day was starting a quite long chain link as we floated around the outdoor lagoon on our rubber rings.
The outside amusement park area afterwards was not so good. The first ride was the free fall roller coaster type thing seen below.
A near vertical drop where you’re sitting horizontally facing down to ground as you speed down into a kind of ‘L’ shape. That proved to be the high as the rollercoaster, pirate ship and the intriguingly named ‘Love Express’ all proved very disappointing before we sweated it out on the big wheel which gave us some great views over the whole complex and the surrounding river and series of bridges.
Day Two – Getting Drunk On Top Of A Mountain On A Hot Day
When a colleague asked me if I wanted to go up Mount Takao for an all-you-can-drink session I didn’t think too much of it but as the morning of the event neared I began to think that it was a crazy suggestion. The idea of climbing a mountain in 30+ degrees and reaching the top sweating, dehydrated and hungry before then embarking on two hours of alcohol excess didn’t sound like the most sensible idea!
What he didn’t mention was that we wouldn’t be acsending the 599m high mountain on foot and that a buffet was also included. A choice of cable-car or chairlift took us up about half-way with most of us opting for the more exciting latter option as we’d have to come down via the former for sure.
After we disembarked we popped into the monkey park for a very short visit just before closing time.
It was then a fairly short walk to the peak to see the lush green forest views and take a few photographs.
Then it was time for the real business of drinking though most of us were more in need of food than anything else! Mind you we had to wait nearly an hour for that privilege as the garden party area was too full but we could get free beer while we waited. Eventually we had an amazing buffet available to us and proceeded to neck a fair few beers in what was a different but very nice setting.
Day Three – Bungee Jumping & Thrilling Old-Fashioned Rollercoasters
I hooked up again with Ethan the next day to complete my big weekend of activities. This time it was Yomiuri Land and getting from the train station to the amusement park was interesting in itself as we had to take a cable car which gave us a nice birds-eye view of the area.
We started off on a rusty coloured ride that lasted long by rollercoaster standards and whizzed around about half of the park but had a very disappointing drop at the start. After that we did a Formula Battle race where the guy asked if we had driver licenses which we said we did back home! Not sure why he asked really as there were kids going on these karts later on!
Next up was a standing rollercoaster with a loop which was ok but more interesting for novelty value than anything else. The white canyon followed which was great and a spaghetti-type wooden rollercoaster which really jolted us about inside of the car and had so many drops and close shaves.
Once I’d done a standard vertical drop ride I couldn’t resist the chance of doing another bungee jump to add to the three I did in New Zealand in 2002. It was 900 yen and only 22m high with a big crash mat below which you could probably just jump on to and survive!
That didn’t stop me getting a little nervous though as it was windy at the top and I was jumping rather than diving off which a lot of people may think is easier but I disagree. In fact I was probably more at ease diving off from 134 metres and six times the height of that at Yomiuri Land! After the ‘3-2-1-bungee’ countdown I was jumping for joy for about a second of freefall before the bungee cord did its job and left me bouncing around for a bit.
Overall it wasn’t a patch on the Kiwi ones but that was never really likely to be the case!
We rounded off the afternoon in the swimming area which was pleasant but not so interesting though we did ride on a huge floating rapid water-ride and did a few lame jumps and dives off the diving board including the inevitable running bomb which entertained those who were watching!
Click here to read ‘TF Flashback: 15 Years On From Ascending Mount Fuji But I’m Still Yet To Climb It For A 2nd Time! (2007)’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Fuji-Q Highland’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Fire-walking Festival In Takao’
Click here to read ‘USA 2011 Pt III: Six Flags Magic Mountain’