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Thrills and Spills: 5 Great Roller Coasters in Japan

Gaijinpot goes on a special tour of Japan taking in the most ridiculous roller coasters found here.

By 4 min read

For the thrill-seeker, there’s nothing quite like the rush you get from riding a good roller coaster or jettokoosutaa in Japanese. Luckily, for those looking for the adrenaline boost that only a double corkscrew can give you, the country has tons of exhilarating (and sometimes terrifying) rides.

Take Tokyo’s Thunder Dolphin, for example. Found in the capital’s Tokyo Dome City Attractions, the 80-meter tall beast offers a beautiful cityscape before plunging through the center of the Big O Ferris Wheel and even through the top of the LaQua department store.

Want to take a tour of thrills? Here are some of our favorite roller coasters in Japan.

The Bandit (Tokyo)

As thrilling as the Thunder Dolphin is, Tokyo’s favorite roller coaster is the Bandit, which was once the fastest in the world. Despite being in the middle of the city, the rollercoaster has a special appeal as it twists and turns through the wooded parts of the nostalgic Yomiuri Land amusement park like a giant mechanical snake through a forest.

4015-1 Yanokuchi, Inagi, Tokyo 206-8566 - Map
Theme Park: Yomiuri Land
Admission: ¥800
Website: www.yomiuriland.com/attraction/bandit/
Tickets are sold that guarantee a seat and are assigned at 30-minute intervals. Riders can purchase a ticket for the time of their choice.

The Steel Dragon (Mie)

People living in Mie and Nagoya know all about Nagashima Spa Land’s awesome collection of coasters. However, choosing just one rollercoaster to recommend is difficult, as the theme park boasts some devilishly creative contraptions with names to match.

From a roller coaster named after a storm, Arashi, to the appropriately named Acrobat that sees you flying around like you have a rocket pack on your back, there is no shortage of highs to spin you silly. But only the Steel Dragon 2000 can claim the title of World’s Longest Rollercoaster.

Its stats should be enough to make even the most hardened rider think twice: 2,479 meters long (No. 1 in the World), 97 meters tall (No. 1 in Japan) and roughly 3.5 Gs (roughly the G-force of an astronaut in a space shuttle). Conquering this dragon will require the bravery of a knight!

333 Nagashimacho Urayasu, Kuwana, Mie 511-1192 - Map
Theme Park: Nagashima Spa Land
Admission: ¥2,000
Website: www.nagashima-onsen.co.jp/spaland/attraction/thrill/dragon.html
The ride is 3 minutes and 12 seconds of abject terror.

Takabisha (Yamanashi)

No real rollercoaster fan’s trip to Japan is complete without a visit to Fuji-Q, which has some of the most diabolical rollercoasters on the planet. However, the park’s biggest attraction for speed freaks is undoubtedly Dodonpa, which answers a question that presumably only sadists have asked: what if we used compressed air to make the cars go even faster? Unfortunately, as of writing, the ride is currently closed, and its future remains uncertain, as it was so fast that it has been accused of breaking several riders’ limbs.

Another star attraction is the so-called “fourth-dimension” rollercoaster, Eejanaika, which rotates through 360 degrees to add an extra level of disorientation to the terror of its top speeds, which reach 130 kilometers per hour. The roller coaster advertises itself as having the most rotations in the world. However, we’ll leave it up to you whether that makes it more or less attractive.

Our recommendation for simple terror, you’ll want to try out the infamous Takabisha with its slow ascent to a previous Guinness World Record-breaking steep drop of 121 degrees. As if this wasn’t scary enough, this is followed by a series of loops that leave you reeling.

5 Chome-6-1 Shinnishihara, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi 403-0017 - Map
Theme Park: Fuji Q Highland
Admission: ¥2,000
Website: www.fujiq.jp/en/attraction/takabisha.html
One of the steepest drops in the world.

Hurricane (Himeji)

Himeji Central Park attracts many rollercoaster fans thanks to Diavlo, based on the popular Batman rollercoaster at Six Flags theme park in America.

Diavlo is a good example of the inverse rollercoaster. It is attached above the rider’s head, allowing the riders to be whipped around from their shoulders for a different experience from the traditional model.

Although Diavlo is the more famous of the two, our pick is Hurricane, which has a head-spinning double corkscrew and triple-double loop-de-loop. Thankfully after riding these two coasters, Himeji Central Park has some relaxing zoological attractions, as you will need something to relax.

Kodani-1434 Toyotomicho, Himeji, Hyogo 679-2121 - Map
Theme Park: Himeji Central Park
Admission: ¥3,000
Website: www.central-park.co.jp/en/amusement/
The ride is designed to give you an upside view of the park's merry-go-round.

Gao of Greenland (Kumamoto)

Gao is the onomatopoeia of a predator growling in Japanese, and the name is appropriate as this coaster is guaranteed to bring out the monster in you. Or terrify you, I suppose. Regardless, it makes our list because it looks like a dinosaur and dinosaurs rule. A dinosaur even drives Gao. The prehistoric captain takes passengers over the back of a stegosaurus and a gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex.

While there are faster roller coasters on the list, Gao deserves its spot for sheer length: 1.66 kilometers long. Even with a top speed of 61 mph, the ride lasts almost 4 minutes, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy the experience.

Midorigaoka, Arao, Kumamoto 864-0011 - Map
Theme Park: Greenland
Admission: ¥1,800
Website: www.greenland.co.jp/park/attraction/gao/
You must be at least 130 cm to ride.
Those are our picks for the roller coasters guaranteed to rattle even the most resolved rider. Which of these are your favorites? Are there any that we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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