Japan’s summers are getting hotter (and dangerous). The baking heat is getting worse year after year. Parents, couples, and expats on holiday often look for trips that combine cooling off with having fun. That being said, who doesn’t enjoy a good old-fashioned water park?
Japan has more than a few. So we have found the best water parks and waterslides across the country for the ultimate combination of cooling off and slip-and-slide excitement for a day out in Japan’s summers.
1. Sunshine Pool (Fukuoka)
Kids love dinosaurs, and kids love waterparks, so naturally, it was only a matter of time before someone thought to combine the two. At Uminonakamichi Seaside Park in Fukuoka, the Dinosaur Pool is a fun way to imagine yourself back in prehistoric times, thanks to its strange statues of dinosaurs and an ancient village theme.
The big attraction for waterslide lovers is the Dragon Sliders. There are three types of waterslides: Fire Dragon, which has a total length of about 100m. Tube Dragon, which can be enjoyed in pairs using a floating ring. Then, there is Little Dragon for little monsters.
You can also easily combine the park with a trip to the nearby aquarium, Sunshine Pool, Marine World, or the go-karts at Wonder World.
2. Tokyo Summerland (Kanto)
Tokyo has so many water parks to choose from that it is hard to choose just one. A popular choice is Yomiuri Land, which has a Fijian theme, and a central pool called WAI, which stands for Water Amusement Island (and also spells the Fijian word for water). There are a few slides, but the big draw is the giant sky river ride which lets the whole family ride a raft down a plume.
But the best water park is probably Tokyo Water Adventure Summerland for its awesome innovations of flumes, some of which genuinely have a diabolical streak that has to be seen to be believed. Take Tower’s Rock, for example. This flume flings you up a ramp that leads to a massive drop before gravity mercifully brings you back from the edge and to safety on the other side.
Then, there is Dekasura, a huge slide that dumps riders out into a tube like a bonus level of Sonic the Hedgehog. The park also has an obstacle course over the water like a toned-down version of American Ninja.
3. Nagashima Spa Land (Mie)
Seen from afar, Joyful Water Park’s sprawling mass of twisted slides resembles an H.R. Geiger fever dream. A baffling array of slides and chutes stacked on top of each other, each with its own personality. It is hard to know where to start.
For the small kids, race your friends with side-by-side slides or slide down on one of the big aqua ring rides. For the truly fearless, Joyful Water Park has one of the most intense slides ever, the Free Fall Slider, which is a near-vertical death drop that reaches speeds so high that you can splash people in the neighboring pools with the wave. There is even staff to save you from ramming the padded barrier at the end.
Our pick for the best waterslide here is the UFO Slider, which answers a question that probably no one has ever asked: what would the sensation of being washed down a sinkhole be like? Something to consider as you slide around the sides before plunging down a hole in the center.
4. Spa Resort Hawaiians (Fukushima)
Despite not being as hot as Japan’s southern region, Fukushima’s summers are known for their intense humidity. As a result, local residents love their water parks, and one of the favorites is the fascinatingly Hawaiian-themed Spa Resort Hawaiians Water Park.
Here, Japan’s love of its neighboring Polynesian island is shown with shops full of jewelry and foodstuffs imported from Hawaii. Its most famous attraction is its 100-meter-long slide that is ridden with flotation rings. With that being said, our pick just for its sheer novelty is the Friendship Canyon, which consists of two slides that offer 120 meters of watery fun.
Time your trip to catch the hula girls and Polynesian-themed shows that take place throughout the day or the Polynesian firebreathing show.
5. Yunessun (Kanagawa)
While Hakone Kowakien Yunessun is known as more of a winter retreat because of its relaxing hot water onsens, it is actually surprisingly enjoyable in the summer too. Start with some cool activities like its Rodeo Mountain waterslide (featured in the header of this article) with its zigzagging shapes designed to resemble rapids, a beautiful waterfall and a water-soaked jungle gym. After cooling down, the big attractions are the various family onsen (hot springs)
The most famous include the Aegean Sea of Gods, which features a twice-hourly light and bubble show around its fountain. Then there are the outdoor springs with fantastic views of the nearby woods. There are even themed onsen that let you bathe in green tea, sake, coffee and even wine—an onsen fit for a king (or perhaps a Roman senator)!