Zip line your way to a great adventure

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Photo courtesy of Forest Adventure
Photo courtesy of Forest Adventure

Zip line your way to a great adventure

by: Tetsuo Nakahara | .
Stripes Japan | .
published: October 03, 2016

“Yeeew!”

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 Furuyama, manager of the adventure sports and park 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 IN JAPAN

In Japan, there are more than 20 zip line tours throughout country.

The first commercial zip line course in Japan was Forest Adventure Fuji, which opened in 2006.

The concept of “Forest Adventure” came from France. It was originally a training facility for risk-management called “La foret de l’aventure.” But the activity became popular among outdoor sports lovers, drawing the interest of the owner of Pacific Net Work Inc., who traveled to Europe and became hooked, according to Yoshiaki Seno, assistant manager at Forest Adventure Fuji.

Sena said the owner came back to Japan and opened several Forest Adventures. Currently, there are 16 facilities throughout the country. 

Forest Adventure Hakone, Odawara and Fuji are popular spots visited by the U.S. military communities from Camp Zama, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Yokosuka Naval Base and Yokota Air Base.

Forest Adventure staff provide safety instructions in English and Japanese, but visitors navigate the courses on their own. Traversing all the wires, bridges and trees, climbing rope ladders and crawling in the scramble net keeps everyone on the move. Forest Adventure officials say the most popular course at most of their parks is the Tarzan swing. Swinging from 30 feet above the ground into a rope net give you quite an adrenaline rush.

The place is ideal for families, but because of safety issues, children must be at least 42 inches tall (110 cm).  Zip liners can also not weigh more than 287 pounds or be pregnant.

If you want to challenge the longest zip line in Japan, you should go to Tarzania. The longest zip line “Sky Valley” is a 1,460 feet long and takes about a minute to ride.

“The speed you get during zip lining in Tarzania is about 18.6 miles an hour,” said Furuyama. “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.” 

nakahara.tetsuo@stripes.com

ZIP LINE ADVENTRURE IN MADARAO KOGEN

13 courses are set in the beautiful Maradarao Kogen in Nagano Prefecture. The place is in the ski resort and open for zip lining from April to the beginning of November.  
Price: 3,800 yen ($40),

Tel: 0269-64-3211 (Reservation needed)
Address: Madarao Kogen, Iiyamashi, Nagano
Website: www.madarao.jp/zip/

TARZANIA

Tarzania in Chiba has the longest zip line course in the country.

Cost: Adventure course, 3,600 ($36) yen for adults; 2,600 yen ($26) for children above elementary school, takes about 2 hours with 6 zip lines.
Tel: 0474-35-00871
Address: 521-4 Ueno, Nagara machi, Chouseigun, Chiba
Website: www.tarzania.jp/index.html (On-line reservation needed)
How to get there: It is located in Seimei no Mori Resort which has tennis court, pool and restaurant facilities. It is located about 90 minutes-drive from Tokyo.

FOREST ADVENTURE HAKONE

This is the nearest zip line park to  Camp Zama, Naval Air Facility Atsugi and Yokosuka Naval Base. FAO includes 36 obstacle.

Price: 3,500 yen ($35) for adults, 2,500 yen ($25) for children over fourth grade.  
Tel: 080-4279-2206  
Address: 4391 Aza Channohana,Hakonemachi Yumoto, Ashigarashimo gun, Kanagawa
Website: (English) www.foret-aventure.jp/eng/index.html (On-line reservation needed)

FOREST ADVENTURE ITOSHIMA

Located about 2 hours via car from Sasebo Naval Base.  This place includes 38 obstacle courses in five sites. Price: 3,600 yen ($36) for adults; 2,600 yen ($25) for children over fourth grade.

Tel: 080-5548-2070
Address: 312-390 Nijyoikisan, Itoshima-shi, Fukuoka
Website: www.foret-aventure.jp/itoshima.html (On-line reservation needed)

ZIP LINE ADVENTURE OSORAKAN

Located about 2 hours driving from Marine Air Corps Iwakuni.  It is open from end of April to Nov. 3. You can enjoy 6 zip line courses (takes about 90 minutes) in the beautiful forest. The place is attached to Osorakan Ecology Campsite. So let’s camp out and zip line! Price: 3,500 yen ($35) for adults; 2,300 yen ($23) for children.

Tel: 0826-28-7270
Address: 740-1 Oaza Yokokawa, Aki otacho, Yamagatagun, Hiroshima
Website: www.osorakan.co.jp/summer/zipline.html (On-line reservation needed)

SPRING VALLEY IZUMI KOGEN

For people in Misawa Air Base, there is no zip line courses in Aomori.  Spring Valley Izumi Kogen is the closest one, yet it takes 4 hours driving from the base. Because it is set in a ski resort, it is available only from May to early November. There are 7 zip line courses, which take about 90 minutes.

Cost: 3,100 yen ($31)
Tel: 022-379-3755   
Address: 14-2 Aza Dakeyama, Fukuoka, Izumiku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi
Website: www.springvalley.co.jp/topics/5300/ (On-line reservation needed)

Useful link: 

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.

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