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Adventure now soars to the treetops

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2008-05-30

A new adventure park has opened near Onna Village, bringing outdoor adventure literally to the forest treetops of Okinawa.

It’s called Forest Adventure, and it involves donning special harnesses and maneuvering from tree-to-tree, high above the ground. Forest Adventure originated in France, and has been a popular sport for adventurous Europeans for years. Okinawa’s natural forests, with plenty of space, height and facilities, makes this newest adventure park—Japan’s fourth—the largest.

There’s something about climbing, walking and swinging through the trees, 30 meters above the ground, while treading on narrow vine-like ropes. Forest Adventure is celebrating its grand opening now, inviting singles, couples and families to give its 33 different activity adventures a try.

The names alone are enticing: Tibetan Bridge, Small Stepping Stone, Tank Trap, Granpa’s Crossing, Tarzan Swing, Double Stirrups, Log Swing, Half Trapeze and one that sounds familiar, the Rope Ladder. Forest Adventure’s managers are encouraging play with nature, learning to live life big by jumping into adventure. Safety, though, is the byword.

The fun is there, but so are the rules. Forest Adventure has been designed and built to be as natural as possible, not cutting the trees. That’s the fun part. Safety dictates all adventurers affix the safety life lines and use then at all times while going up the trees, and crossing over to other trees. Managers say the courses aren’t difficult and no muscle power is needed.

In fact, the course has the esplanade throughout, so supporters can take pictures and lend support—from the ground. There’s a two-hour aerial walk, allowing people to learn the extent of their knowledge and abilities. There’s also a self-structured program known as the Experience Study Program.

The Forest Adventure isn’t for everyone. Participants must be more than 140cm, and weigh less than 130kg. Youngsters under 18 must be accompanied by a participating adult. Pregnant women are not permitted to use the Forest Adventure; drunken people and those with drug dependence aren’t either.

Safety is paramount, which means no sandals or slip-on shoes. Long hair must be tied back, and body piercings covered or taped over. The managers recommend ankle supporting boots as best. All participants must attend a safety briefing and sign an agreement acknowledging full understanding of the safety rules. Management will close the course if staff deems it dangerous.

The fee for adults over 18 is ¥3,500, and includes entry, insurance, a harness and helmet rental. Children under 18 participate for ¥2,500. There are several family special plans. A family of three, including one adult, plays for ¥8,000, while a family of four, also including one adult, pays ¥9,500. A family of five is ¥11,000.

Forest Adventure Park is a non-smoking park, but there are special designated smoking areas. Coin lockers are provided for storage of personal goods.

Operating hours are 9 a.m. ~ 5 p.m., with last entry at 4 p.m. daily. There may be irregular closures or schedule changes due to weather conditions. Visitors should check with Forest Adventure in advance by calling or visiting the website. Reservations are required. The reservations office, (098) 963-0088, is open 9 a.m. ~ 6 p.m. daily. Group reservations, eight or more people, are mandatory.

Forest Adventure Park is located near Cape Maeda in Onna. Take Highway 58 north. Turn left at the Ramada Renaissance Resort, then return toward Yomitan for about five minutes, then look for the Forest Adventure sign.

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