JapanaTour: Fuji-Q Highland


Welcome back to JapanaTour, the series of articles that explores every nook and cranny that the Japanator site has to offer. This week, we talk about the front page!

Back to sensible! If you're considering visiting a theme park in Japan, then there are two biggies out there. The first is of course Tokyo Disneyland, which offers you some of that family fun they talk about on the adverts. The other, and for the thrill-seekers among us, is Fuji-Q Highland. It isn't littered with roller coasters by any means, but it certainly packs a punch with those it does have. Come hear me ramble about Fuji-Q Highland after the jump!

Glorious entrance!

Fuji-Q Highland was built way back in 1961, and since then has seen rides come and go with the times. Their foray into roller coasters peaked in 1996 with the introduction of the Fujiyama coaster, and since then Fuji-Q has housed many more. The park is full of present and ex-record breakers, so it's certainly the place to visit for that all important adrenaline rush. Of course, if you aren't a huge fan of roller coasters, there are plenty of other attractions, including many anime-related offerings. 

Fun fact time!

Did you know that Fuji-Q is open all year? The only days that it's shut are public holidays and one day every month. You'll want to check here to make sure you don't pick that day!

It's possible to get to Fuji-Q by train, so if you're heading there that way, you'll want to take the following:

  • From JR Shinjuku Station, take the Chuo Main line towards Otsuki
  • Get off at Otsuki station (approximately 60 minutes on the super-express)
  • Change to the Fujikyu line, getting off at Fuji-Q Highland (approximately 50 minutes)

However, while the train route isn't particularly complex, do bear in mind that the rail fees for such a route are going to be in the ¥2000-3000 area. Make sure you have some cash on you, or that your Suica card is topped up! The alternative is to go for the 'Q-PACK'. This will pay for a coach ticket to the park, the entry fee and a pass that lets you ride everything. You would usually have to pay a fee to use each ride (anything up to ¥1000), but this ticket allows you to ignore them and get straight in the queue. The Q-PACK costs a hefty ¥7,100, or¥ 6,600 for those between the ages of 12 and 18. For those using the train, it'll cost either ¥1,200 (for basic entry and no rides inclusive) or ¥5,000 (unlimited rides). If you are worried you wont ride much, or have a fear of certain rides, it's probably worth going for the basic ticket and paying for the rides that interest you. It's an expensive day out, but you'll have to judge for yourself if it's worth going! As far as amusement parks go, it's certainly one of the best!

The park is open from 9 til 5 on weekdays, and usually 9 til 8 on weekends. On occasion the park will open for an extra hour, so be sure to look it up! You can take a look at an older map of the park here, but unfortunately it's missing some attractions, such as Takabisha and the Sengoku Basara game. You can go here for a less-detailed but official PDF which has the locations of most places you can visit. 

No Shinji in sight. S'all good.

As I mentioned previously, Fuji-Q has a good selection of anime-themed attractions, and as some of you will know, it is the home of 'Evangelion World'. This isn't actually a ride, but a huge building dedicated to both the series and the recent films. You can play around recreations of particular scenes, including being able to sit at Gendou's desk! There are also life-sized models of most of the characters (didn't see PenPen...or Shinji) as well as an Eva pod you can have your photo taken in. There is even a dedicated room that displays props and other items from the series, such as Mari's glasses. It's certainly a haven for Evangelion fans, as they've done a fantastic job setting the place up. Of course, the best part has to be the gigantic models of the Eva units themselves. They are positioned in dramatic poses and have accompanying lighting and videos to make everything super dramatic. The purple Eva even has it's eyes start to glow and spew smoke out it's mouth while the lights go crazy. Very cool!

Fun fact time!

Did you know that Fuji-Q has the worlds second largest haunted attraction? The Haunted Hospital is a huge maze, which can take up to an hour to complete! If you want to do it, get in the queue early, because due to the nature of the attraction, this has the longest queue times in the entire park!

Another anime themed attraction is Gundam Crisis. You are given a chunky 'scanner' (think an original Game Boy but with a larger, colour screen) that you must take around two different areas. It's your job to 'find' magnetic coating data for five different parts of the Gundam, and you do this by scanning particular points hidden on walls and behind obstacles. However, all of this is timed, there are about thirty people doing this with you and not all of the ports will scan. Some can even erase one of your parts! It's all a bit like a children's game show, but it's pretty fun nonetheless. It seems that the locations of the parts don't change, so it you can memorise where everything is after several plays, you can complete the game. You certainly won't do it on your first go, but if you do indeed manage it, you get taken to a special cockpit that only you will be allowed to enter, where you'll see a special animated video, as well as getting your picture taken and receiving a certificate! Fan or not, this is definitely worth checking out! 

There is also a similar attraction called the Sengoku Basara Battle. Unlike the Gundam attraction, you receive a card from the attendant, which you must go around a themed castle area inserting into card readers. Some of these will give your card a stamp, and after collecting six pieces of armour, you get to go to fight Nobunaga! Same rules as Gundam Crisis apply, meaning you are timed and can also lose armour in certain slots. The Nobunaga fight apparently involves using a sword to fight a 'hologram', but it's pretty difficult so I haven't seen it myself! The cards that you get given are based on different characters from the games, which also changes the armour you can pick up. I got a Yukimura card myself, so I picked up one of his spears when hunting around the castle. 

Takabisha: Coaster by day, dragon by night.

Now, onto those roller coasters! There are four major coasters at Fuji-Q, so you'll want to go as early as you can in order to ride all of them. Queues can get really bad when schools out, so try and plan around that! Fujiyama, when it was opened in 1996, held the world records for tallest (79m), fastest (130 km/h) and highest drop (70m). While it doesn't hold these records nowadays, it's certainly very impressive! The name Fujiyama comes from Mt. Fuji, which you can get a great view of when you're at the top of the coaster. You can see a video of it in action over here. 

Dodonpa was the next of the major roller coasters to be released, at least of those still operating (a ride called Mad Mouse was released before this, but has since closed). It was opened to the public in 2001 and was the fastest roller coaster in the world at the time, hitting a whopping 172 km/h. However, while it lost this title over time, it still holds the record for fastest launch acceleration. How long does it take to reach that top speed? A measly 1.8 seconds! The name comes from the sounds made from a taiko drum, which you can hear while queuing. You can see a video of it in action over here. 

Fun fact time!

Did you know that the coach included in the Q-PACK has Wi-fi access? If you have a mobile device or a laptop with wireless, you can pay a very small fee to be able to access the web. You'll be on the coach for a few hours, so it's worth it to stave the boredom!

2006 saw the unveiling of Eejanaika, a type of coaster dubbed '4-dimensional'. The seats are placed either side of the track rather than upon it, where they can spin independently of the track itself. Motors in these arms can then rotate the seats to create a crazy experience when partnered by the loops and spins in the track. It is the second of these to have been built, the first being X2 in Six Flags. It holds the record for having the most inversions on a roller coaster, partnering those on the tracks with the spinning seats. It also travels at a not-so-shabby 126 km/h. You can see a video of it in action over here. 

The final attraction in the 'big four' is the very recent Takabisha (pictured above), which was opened this year. Yet again, another record was broken when it became the roller coaster with the steepest drop at a crazy 121 degrees! Unfortunately, it won't be holding this record for much longer, as the 15th of December sees the release of the Green Lantern coaster in Six Flags, which boasts a drop of 122 degrees. Not to rain on Takabisha's parade though, as it's still a fantastic and terrifying ride. The track itself weaves around itself and looks somewhat like a coiled, black dragon. You can see a video of it in action over here. 

That brings us to a close, so I hope you enjoyed this quick look into the magical land of Fuji-Q Highland. If you want to write about your experiences, have any further questions or even have some tips of your own, leave them in the comments below! 

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Chris Walden
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