Kijima Kogen After Mistui Greenland we had a break day in the trip. Some people used this to get in some culture, but a few of us decided to travel to the resort town of Beppu for some credit whoring. Beppu is a leisurely two hour train ride from Fukuoka, and was probably as far off the (Western) tourist trail as I ventured on this trip. The main draw here was Kijima Kogen, a small park with Jupiter - one of Japan's few wooden coasters - and the infamous enclosed shoot-the-chutes ride.
Kijima is set on the side of a mountain, and probably has some quite picturesque views most of the time. For our visit some very dense fog had set in, so riding Jupiter felt like a 1990s video game where everything in the distance was cloaked in haze. The ride itself was quite good, easily the best wooden coaster I rode in Japan (not that there were that many of them). The pre-lift bunny hops were great, and while it's not in the same league as Balder, there was enough airtime to justify some re-rides.
Apart from the main coaster, Kijima also had a fairly stock-standard selection of rides - roller skater, corkscrew, mine train, giant ferris wheel etc. A 360-degree cinema was an interesting find, as was "Moon Parade", the monorail ride. While Kijima probably isn't a destination park by any stretch of the imagination, I liked it and thought it was well worth a visit.
Before the trip to Beppu, we decided to see what Fukuoka had to offer by night.
This friendly robot will show you around a shopping mall. Or lure you into its lair, along with the other unsuspecting humans.
This is a pachinko parlour. Pachinko is a Japanese for "very noisy game that is definitely not gambling because that is illegal."
A few of the arcades around Japan had these machines where you could win little matchbox-type cars. I ended up collecting quite a few, not that I know what to do with them now...
One of the stranger capsule machines we saw was "creepy man on bench".
I'm told that Fukuoka is famous for its noodles, and Ramen Stadium has plenty.
Like of lot of Japanese restaurants, you order at a vending machine, and then take your meal ticket inside to give to the waiter. Mercifully these things had an English button and pictures of the food.
I forget what this is, but clearly something with bacon and seaweed. I remember it being delicious. There's more to Japanese food than sushi!
Wandering the streets of Fukuoka...
...we "found" red light island. Yes, they have a whole island for hookers and porn!
Let's pretend we blew all of our yen in this place, which sounds a lot cooler than just heading back to the hotel because it started to rain.
Fast forward to the next morning and after a scenic journey through the Japanese countryside, we arrived in Beppu. These delightful geishas greeted us.
Jeff is ready in case of tsunami.
Here is a photo of Marcel taking a photo of the entrance to Kijima.
Park map. Kijima is definitely targeted more at families than thrillseekers.
Mandatory giant ferris wheel. On a clear day this would provide a great view, I imagine.
It was very foggy, but Jupiter beckoned.
Robb and Elissa were off at the Hello Kitty park, but had organised some ERT for us under the guise of "filming time". Thanks guys!
There are only a handful of wooden coasters in Japan, Jupiter is definitely the most thrilling of the three I rode on this trip, with a good amount of speed and airtime.
Some happy riders.
Sadly the stork observation tower was out of action, although this is certainly a delightful bit of theming.
Yep, this is a great spot for a photo.
Continuing a pattern we'd seen at a few parks, the corkscrew was closed.
But the mine train was open! Gold Rush was memorable for having the smallest seats known to man, clearly designed for double amputees. That piece of track in the foreground is a four-foot long piece of theming, so I guess they had some leftover bits?
Roller Skater is a Vekoma roller skater, themed to roller skates!
Hooray for credits!
This is probably a great ride for anyone with a shoe fetish.
Last up was Dragon, a powered kiddie coaster. There were several laps to this "credit", although one would have been enough for me.
Shooting Pirates was a fun but brief dark ride, which predictably involved both pirates and shooting.
Poseidon is a somewhat unique flume ride, all the thrills of a regular flume, without the wetness.
It's all thanks to these covered boats.
They even have tinted windows, which gave the whole thing a somewhat "VIP tour" feel.
Priscilla is clearly very impressed by the whole arrangement.
This tent housed a 360-degree, 3D cinema. The story was a little hard to follow but it was something do with pirates and mermaids, and very Japanese. I'm counting this as a culture credit.
The suggestively named Moon Parade provides a scenic tour of the park.
The vehicles were perhaps a little over the top, even for Japan.
We were surprised to see a 2-way radio next to the drivers seat.
It turns out Moon Parade is a little unreliable, and if you get stuck you're supposed to call back to be rescued.
Fortunately we made a complete circuit without any dramas. That is all from Kijima, next we head to Nagoya Zoo and Nagashima Spa Land. Thanks for reading!
Higashiyama Zoo, Nagoya I'd like to get this report finished before Christmas so let's keep things moving. After a Shinkansen ride from Fukuoka to Nagoya, we had some free time to explore the city. Intrigued by their side-friction bobsled "coaster" I decided to visit Higashiyama Zoo. The amusement park here wasn't big, but the zoo part would have been worth the visit by itself. Plenty of animals to look at and they all seemed pretty content, in contrast to the depressing state of the collection at Tobu Zoo. The park also features the Higashiyama Sky Tower, an observation tower which gave a great view of the Nagoya metropolis.
Our destination. I like how the artist has given the gorilla a few curls of chest hair on top of his fur, no doubt to portray masculinity.
And here we are. Higashiyama is definitely one of the more pleasant zoos I've visited.
Nolan, you look like you've lost some... height?
Donkey. Because TPR.
A friendly rhino.
Even showed some tongue.
Lion doing some vocal exercises.
There are rides here somewhere...
Some facts about Australia accompanied the huge koala exhibit. We send Japan dirt and food, and they give us cars and TVs.
Jeff, that's not a real bear!
Because koalas are slow... get it?
Actual koala. I think I've seen more of these at foreign zoos than at home.
They really like koalas here.
The zoo had a lake with vehicles to drive. Swan is pretty standard, but I've never seen a digger one of these before?
Anteater getting some lunch. Higashiyama did quite a good job of the "natural habitat" style enclosures.
Time to head to the observation deck of Higashiyama Tower.
Nagoya. Smaller than Tokyo, not that you'd be able to tell from this view.
Amusement park found! Here's the main attraction, Slope Shooter.
For some reason a lot of Japanese places have these bear photo ops. I amused myself by making Jeff pose with them.
In addition to Slope Shooter, the park has two more rollercoasters. Both a hidden in the trees and difficult to photograph. Jet Coaster, the bigger one, wasn't too bad, if a little slow.
And Bear Coaster, a powered ride.
So Slope Shooter is pretty simple. You get into the vehicle and the ride op pushes you to the lift hill.
Then gravity does the rest. Definitely a unique ride.
Lift hill POV!
You could even speed up the ride a little by leaning into the corners. We noticed that heavier riders would tend to stall on the final straight and need an extra "push" to get back to the station. Awkward.
Nagashima Spa Land Japan's answer to Cedar Point, Nagashima Spa Land is home to two of the most impressive rollercoaster structures ever built - Steel Dragon 2000 and White Cyclone. The sheer volume of steel and wood in these rides is awe-inspring, towering over everything else in the park (except the giant ferris wheel, of course). Although the park has twelve coasters, most of them are clones and offer essentially the same experience found elsewhere. That said, the shuttle loop and ultra twister (unambiguously named Shuttle Loop and Ultra Twister) were great, and the collection of flat rides was solid. The park also had an excellent powered bobsled which offered most of the thrills of a regular bobsled without the danger of flying off a corner.
Good morning Nagashima!
The park was celebrating it's 50th anniversary, although fortunately none of the coasters were that old.
Shuttle Loop is essentially Montezooma's Revenge with yellow paint. I am a big fan of these rides, simple yet plenty of fun.
The coasters at Nagashima Spa Land had a pretty simple naming pattern, the shuttle loop was called Shuttle Loop, the looping star was called Looping Star, the wild mouse... yep.
White Cyclone is definitely one of the most iconic woodies.
It's quite big.
As for the ride itself, there are a lot of helixes. So if you like those you're in for a treat.
I think I see a coaster train through all of that wood.
Two and a half minutes of helix. Essentially you're turning left for a mile.
Steel Dragon has been the longest coaster for 15 years running.
The ride just goes on and on and on.
The ultra twister is called... you guessed it. Ultra Twister!
I don't know if this was better than the one at Mitsui Greenland, they're both much the same and quite fun rides.
This the powered bobkart ride.
It looks kind of tame but was great, and the track surprisingly lengthy.
JC is having the time of his life.
There were a few interesting flat rides at the park, including Rock'n'Roll. With the right technique it was possible to get some nausea-inducing 360-degree flips on this one.
I'm sure nobody has taken this photo of Corkscrew ever.
To help with capacity the park built two wild mouse coasters next to each other. Only one side was open so I guess there's a credit waiting for me on the next visit.
Nerd shot of train and wheel assembly.
The various Japanese haunt attractions were starting to blend together at this point but this one had some good moments. As always the most fun is found in taking people with you who scare easily.
Another one of these. We had plenty of time and the cabins were airconditioned so decided to finally ride a giant Japanese ferris wheel.
A view of the park. Note the enormous pirate ships.
Looking towards Steel Dragon's 300-foot lift hill. I was glad to get another first-gen Intamin freefall ride in too, not many of those left anymore.
I'd not been on a looping star before, this one was a pleasant surprise and reinforced my general admiration of Schwarzkopf coasters.
This pirate ship can hold approximately 300 Japanese people, or thirty Westerners.
Sadly Acrobat wouldn't open until a fortnight after our visit. Another ride to look forward to on the next trip, although I'm disappointed they didn't call it "Flying Coaster".
Promo art from Manta, with superimposed faces. Creepy.
Nagashima has a decent-sized kids area as well, themed to the Peter Rabbit books.
With a drop of perhaps six feet, this was definitely a "kids" flume ride.
All hail the flume gods!
Kyle nervously embraces the splash, like a boss. That's it from Nagashima Spa Land. Coming up next will be Universal Studios Japan!
Ah yes, I remember that "trough coaster" well. A few of us went from Nagashima Spaland, to this zoo, on the TPR 2007 Japan Tour, only for the credits there. But I discovered one of the few (what I call) Mini-Haunt Swings in Japan and other overseas spots. Loved it so much I wanted one in my back yard!
Thanks for all the photos Aaron. It looks like you guys had a really great trip. And I will still never get over those MASSIVE PIRATE SHIPS at NS. Sadly, they never moved together, on any visit there with TPR. <sad>
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