BUNGEES, BARBEQUES, AND BERRIES
Added In: Living in Japan › For the kids
Rob M. Dupuis
The rushing wind tousled my hair as my feet shot up toward the clear blue sky. In a blur below, calm, green pond swept by, and with it sailed away the years of my adulthood. Seconds later, a laugh mixed with equal parts nerves and excitement escaped my flushed cheeks as I skidded to a stop on the small wooden landing pad. I was thirteen again—and loving every minute of it. A moment later, my son Kai came zipping down the line with a look on his face that I hope never to lose from my memory, and I knew we’d be back to Athletic World in Green Valley, Minami-Chita a few more times this summer.
Established in 1978, Athletic World is exactly what a father of two sons needs, or anyone who needs to strip away a little stress or have some fun for that matter. Forty nature stations provide adventurers of all ages with an opportunity to climb, swing, jump, fly, pull, push, and run their way through a small patch of wilderness in the Chita Peninsula of Aichi Prefecture. There are zip lines to brave, tire swings to soar on, rope ladders to climb, wooden bridges to cross, towers to conquer and numerous adventures for you to discover. And Athletic World is only a portion of a larger park: Minami-Chita Green Valley.
To enter Green Valley, adults pay a fee of 1,000 yen and children from 400 yen to 700 yen, depending on the child’s age. Admission includes passage through Athletic World, Water Athletic, a pool area open from 21 July, and Asureboru, a giant ball pool for kids.
Right out of the gate, visitors to the park are welcomed with screams from the Sky Coaster, a 32-metre high pendulum swing that sweeps its riders over the treetops of Athletic World at 90 kilometres per hour (2,000 yen for single riders or 3,000 yen for three). Just beyond the Sky Coaster are the woods of Athletic World and Water Athletic. Adventurers can grab a map at the ticket gate, stow any packs or gear in a locker, and then get ready for some fun. There is a route printed on the map that passes through all 40 stations, but you can pick or choose your own challenges if you like. Either way, you will need at least a couple of hours to tackle Athletic World.
A little ways past Station 20, on a wooded hill, stands the 20-metre bungee jumping tower. Slightly lower on the excitement scale than the Sky Coaster, consider this attraction “beginners’ bungee” as jumpers are harnessed around the waist and jump feet first. Still, for 1,500 yen, there are few better ways to catch some pretty scenery and a quick thrill.
After a morning or afternoon of working up an appetite and releasing the weeks’ stresses, pull up a bench in the barbeque house. Here families and friends gather under a smoky blue cloud to grill up some lunch and share their adventures. To save you from lugging your karubi and yakisoba across the zip lines and up the towers of Athletic World, the Green Valley staff is able to prepare a pork course and a beef course (each for 1,450 yen)—the barbequing is up to you, of course. (Open from 10am until 4pm)
Finally, to finish the day off right and to fill whatever space remains in your belly, take a stroll over to Minami-Chita Strawberry Farm (with your reservations already made a few weeks earlier as it is very popular) for some strawberry picking time. A friendly little man will lead you to a long section of strawberry plants marked off by tall blue sticks, hand you a small dish of condensed milk, and then leave you to pick away until your belt is begging for a new hole.
Packages are available as well that include both a barbeque set and either strawberry picking or blueberry picking. For prices, check out the website listed below.
This summer, if you are tired of lying on a beach or are just up for a little fun and adventure, pack the kids or a couple of friends into the car and take a ride down to Minami-Chita Green Valley and Athletic World. There are adventures for all ages and activities aplenty. Before the day is over, I bet you’ll be planning your next trip down.
Closed: Holidays vary so check the website calendar before planning your trip.
Green Valley Tel: 0569-62-3939
Strawberry Farm: 0569-62-1115
Website: http://www.1115.jp (Get it? イイイチゴ!)
There are two parking lots: one onsite with a fee of 500yen or another down the hill, which costs nothing but a little energy.