When people think of Japan, they usually think of sushi, girls in kimono, otaku types camping outside electronics stores, and maybe this guy. But did you know that Japan is home to some seriously intense roller coasters? Yup, there are more corkscrews, loops and positive Gs in Japan than you can shake a paper fan at, so we decided it was about time we introduced you to 10 of the best roller coasters the country has to offer. We hope you had a light lunch!
Summer’s almost over and we’ll all soon be able to go outside without needing to towel off every 30 seconds, so let’s make the most of the perfect weather by hitting up some theme parks and challenging our stomachs to hold on to their contents!
Rather than simply bringing you a collection of photographs and telling you how much fun these coasters are, we decided to hunt down some videos to really show them off. As it turns out, there was one roller coaster authority that had managed to hit every single ride on our list, taking high-quality videos not just of the rides in action but from the very front seat, too. Credit has to go to the roller coaster aficionados at Theme Park Review both for taking these videos and for seemingly having one of the best jobs in the world ever.
So, without further ado, allow us to present: RocketNews24’s 10 unmissable roller coasters in Japan!
- 1. Dodonpa Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park, Yamanashi Prefecture
Starting us off with jolt and a head rush, it’s Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park’s Dodonpa–one of the first roller coasters ever to utilise compressed air to fire cars out of its long, dark launch tunnel. And don’t let its cutesy pink and zebra-striped cars fool you: this is one seriously intense ride.
Although incredibly fast, and at one point the fastest coaster in the world at 172 kilometres per hour (107 mph), the reason so many thrill-seekers travel from all over the world to ride Dodonpa is to experience its brain-mushingly fast acceleration, hitting top speed in just 1.8 seconds. Not bad for a roller coaster built nearly 12 years ago!
- 2. Takabisha Fuji-Q Highland, Yamanashi Prefecture
From fast starts to nerve-racking drops, Fuji-Q’s Takabisha fires riders around in short cars rather than one long train, dragging them up a second climb at 90 degrees halfway through the ride before dropping them over 121-degree steel precipice, making this roller coaster the steepest in the world and a Guinness World Record holder. The drop is absolutely horrifying, and for that exact reason this is without a doubt one of our favourite roller coasters of all time, let alone Japan.
- 3. Thunder Dolphin Tokyo Dome City, Tokyo
Our next entrant is perhaps one of the most accessible to visitors to Japan in that it is located in the heart of the capital. Tokyo Dome City‘s Thunder Dolphin is not only the world’s sixth tallest roller coaster at 80 metres (262 feet), but it also takes its riders on a breathtaking ride around the amusement park it is situated in, flying through the centre of the Big O ferris wheel and the giant hole at the top of the LaQua building, a popular spa resort that’s also well worth a visit.
- 4. Diavlo Himeji Central Park, Hyōgo Prefecture
A B&M inverted roller coaster, this ride is in fact a clone of Six Flags’ original Batman: The Ride coaster. Nevertheless it’s a fantastic attraction and one not to miss if you’re in Hyōgo Prefecture and have had your fill of animal spotting on Himeji Central Park’s safari tours.
- 5. Hollywood Dream – The Ride Universal Studios Japan, Osaka
Thought to have cost some US$50 million, this ride the kind of sleek experience you could only expect from a big park like Universal Studios. Although the ride does not turn upside-down at any point, there are still plenty of thrills to be found here with the highest section of track more than 44 metres (114 feet) in the air, and trains reaching top speeds of 90 kilometres per hour (50mph). Better yet, the ride uses on-board audio systems which allow the rider to choose their own soundtrack to be thrown about to. Very cool indeed.
- 6. White Cyclone Nagashima Spa Land, Mie Prefecture
Nothing says old-school thrills like a wooden roller coaster, and Nagashima Spa Land‘s White Cyclone has plenty of wood to go around. At 1,700 metres this is Japan’s longest wooden roller coaster, and the third longest in the world after The Beast (7,359 metres) and The Voyage (6,442 metres), which can both be found in the United States. Standing at 42 metres tall, though, this is not a ride to be taken lightly, and well worth the 1,000 yen (US$10) ticket fee.
- 7. Eejanaika Fuji-Q Highland, Yamanashi Prefecture
Yet another Fuji-Q offering, Eejanaika is a “fourth-dimension” roller coaster that is sure to test your ability to hold on to your lunch. The term “fourth dimension” refers to the fact that, on account of its unusual structure and the roller coaster being attached to four rather than two rails, each seat can rotate a full 360 degrees while the ride is in motion. No loops in the track? No problem — your seat will flip you over plenty as you’re hurtling towards the earth at nearly 80 mph! Whether the ride’s name refers to the raucous Edo-period festivals of the same name or the term “it’s all good!” in Kansai dialect, we have no idea, but this is certainly an experience to remember, with even Theme Park Review’s experienced coaster rider Robb Alvey going to pieces just a few seconds after the first drop in the above video.
- 8. Venus GP Space World, Fukuoka Prefecture
Circling an enormous model space shuttle, the Venus GP roller coaster makes it onto our list purely because of how surprisingly intense it is, and of course because it features both a vertical loop and one of the most twisting, helix-packed tracks in Japan. And as you can see from the video, it certainly doesn’t dawdle either! Head over to Space World’s official website for more info.
- 9. Bandit Yomiuri Land, Tokyo
Built in 1988, the Bandit was once the world’s fastest roller coaster. Even today, it’s a fantastic ride and guaranteed to put a smile on your face, but it’s the location in which it, and of course the entire Yomiuri Land amusement park, is set that really gives this roller coaster its unique appeal. Rather than being crammed in between other attractions or overlooked by tall buildings, Bandit zips along the treetops, the city just visible in the distance, and is both exciting and charming at once. By far one of the best “date” coasters in the country.
- 10. Steel Dragon 2000 Nagashima Spa Land, Mie Prefecture
Bringing us home is the mighty Steel Dragon 2000, the world’s longest steel roller coaster measuring in at an incredible 2,479 metres (8,133 feet). It may no longer be the world’s fastest, but at 153 km/h (95 mph), even the Steel Dragon’s jaw-dropping length won’t take long to cover. And trust us when we say that this thing is a true monster to behold in the flesh.
*** Honourable mentions ***
Fujiyama Fuji-Q, Yamanashi Prefecture
At one time a world record holder for both height and longest drop, Fujiyama may have lost its claim to fame but it’s still a fantastic experience. Besides, you’ll most likely be at Fuji-Q trying to get on so many of the other rides on our list, so you should definitely give this one a try too if you have time!
Vanish Cosmoland, Kanagawa Prefecture
Situated on the waterfront in popular Yokohama, this roller coaster not only “disappears” by zooming into a pool in the middle of the amusement park, but is surprisingly fast. Do not be fooled by its comparatively small stature.
The Skycycle Washuzan Highland Park, Okayama
And finally, if all these dips, turns and loops are too much for you, Washuzan Highland Park’s Skycycle will be just the ticket. Easily the most sedate “roller coaster” ever built, the Skycycle features tandem bicycles attached to rails, and all the kinetic power is provided by riders’ own leg muscles. Guaranteed no throwing up. Unless, of course, you’re allergic to exercise…
Be sure to let us know in the comments section below if there are any other roller coasters that you think visitors to Japan shouldn’t miss! And for more videos and theme park info check out Theme Park Review.