The Gunma Cycle Sports Center in Japan may be the most eco-friendly amusement park in the world. As you may be able to guess from the name, every attraction in the park, from the roller coaster to the “steam” locomotive, is human-powered.
Located in Minakami, a town located in a rural area of northern Gunma Prefecture, the park is a celebration of all things bicycle. In addition to the rides, there is a collection of strange and unique bicycles that guests can take for a spin on one of two tracks. They also host road races and other cycling events.
Shigenobu Matsuzawa, a Japanese blogger who travels around the country in search of B-grade tourist spots like this, visited the park earlier this month and was kind enough to share his experience with us.
Shigenobu arrived at the entrance, a large two-story building that appeared to be devoid of both customers and staff.
Stepping inside, he found that people weren’t the only thing missing from the inside. While display cases lined the walls, all of them were empty.
The exception being a few key chains hanging from the “souvenir stand”.
After wandering around, Shigenobu was spotted from across the park by a middle-aged man wearing a green vest with the word “STAFF” written across the back. Surprised, the man quickly called out to the other staff, “A customer! A customer actually came!” and rode up to Shigenobu on a bike.
The man then led Shigenobu around the park, showing him to the following exciting attractions:
■ The Human-Powered Roller Coaster: “Rolling Mountain”
Only 200 yen (US $2.33) per ride
That first drop is a doozy
It was raining lightly that day so the man wiped the seat off with a cloth before riding
The tires help you make it up the lift
And then you just keep on pedaling
It took Shigenobu and three other passengers (a couple that arrived shortly after and the middle-aged man) 5-minutes to complete the circuit, which is a pretty good value for the money considering most roller coasters only last around 1-2 minutes.
The coaster is able to reach speeds comparable to that of a standard bicycle and provides a great workout. Hauling the entire train on your own may require a feat of strength, however.
■ The Tall Cycle
What fun awaits on the Tall Cycle?
Still 200 yen per ride
All of the cars seemed to be sponsored by the Japanese Lottery
Tall Cycle is tall
That’s it, really.
■ The Cycle Steam Locomotive
The cars are similar to Rolling Mountain
But there’s actually a motor attached as well
In fact you don’t really have to pedal to move the train. It just kinda goes on its own.
It’s like they gutted a regular amusement park steam locomotive and arbitrarily stuck pedals in the cars.
According to the park website, there’s also a “Cycle Monorail” ride, but it seems to have been out of order when Shigenobu visited.
Shigenobu gives the park an overall rating of 4/5 stars, commenting: “The human-powered roller coaster is a masterpiece. It’s fun, a little sad, and overall a considerably high-quality B-grade tourist spot. Highly recommended for those with kids.”
Source: Another Tokyo