Nasu Highland

Time to venture out of Tokyo now to Nasu, in the mountains north of the capital.

Fantasy Pointe Nasu Highland, to give it its full name, had the biggest collection of coasters on the trip so it would be interesting to see how it fared. We had a TV crew following us at this park (which explains why we're all wearing the same T-Shirt) and we were also given a little ERS in having the whole park to ourselves before they let (the few) public in.

When we arrived at the park we were greeted with this rather strange sign featuring a woman holding a fish. "Wow, they're promoting fish", "Maybe its Fish day" and "Something is a bit fishy with that sign" were some of the stupid comments being made.
It wasn't until later that I figured out what it was all about.

Unlike Yomiuriland, this park's mascot wasn't that cool. A bird decked out in a stars and strips bow tie. It got me thinking how people come up with these ideas, there has to be drugs involved in some capacity don't you think.

More motorised animals, and a nice mix of beasts this time, particularly the hippy dog thing on the left.

This, if you hadn't guessed, is the children's bit of the park situated just by the entrance. Lego is such a worldwide phenomenon that it has even found it's way to the mountains in Northern Japan. If Linz Hoy was on this trip, being the Lego fan she is, we'd could have left her and she would have been quite content. The majority of us were heading off to the ride in the background.

Panic Drive is a nice name for a children's coaster don't you think? It has that air of having failed the translation from English to Japanese. Did you know that the biggest example of that happening is Donkey Kong, which was originally Monkey Kong but due to a glitch with the fax machine the wrong letter came out the other end (or something). The blue sign is iriguchi which means entrance. The first part "iri" represents a river running into another river hence in. The second part "guchi" represents a gate. Exit is deguchi and the sign for that is a plant exiting the ground. Once you learn that most of the Japanese characters are pictoral representations of the word they're represent, things do become a little easier.

Really nicely themed cars impressed Tim, just look at the excitement written all over his face.

It was actually quite a decent ride offering good height for a kiddie's coaster. This picture was actually taken outside the park at the end of the day. How many childrens coaster's can you see above the outer fence of a park; not many I suspect.

The other kiddy coaster in this part of the park was the Dragon, and you've all seen this type of coaster a million times before (OK, maybe not that many times, but a lot), so I'll skip over that.

We all live in the Yellow Submarine, the Yellow Submarine, the Yellow Submarine. Sorry about that, just singing along to some music. This isn't a yellow submarine but is the garishly coloured building that houses the park's rapids ride.

River Adventure brought to you in oversaturatedgaudilyshadedtechnicolour. To say this building stuck out would be an understatement.

Speaking of garish colours, this is the park's purple SLC coaster called F2, Fright Flight. Now within the club, SLCs get a raw deal with most people hating them. I actually find them alright as long as you keep your head back and assume the Harley Grip on the restraints. I like the trouble they went to on adding the coconuts to the palm trees, like that will make them more realistic looking. Why purple you might ask? All will be revealed in a bit.

Now if someone can please tell me how the inline can be taken without hitting the corkscrew bit I'd be very pleased as these 2 elements seemed to be too close to each other to be viable. When we got off this ride the cameras were filming our responses so we ran up to it excited shouting "That was RusselVanTassel". Although it sounded like something great and exciting, Russel was actually just another member of the group with a cool sounding name.

This is the Batflyer coaster, and I have ridden this type of thing before once I managed to squeeze myself into it that is. These things aren't designed for adults and you have to squeeze your thighs into the ride if the door is to be shut. Rather than suffer the indignity of going through the embarkation twice I chose to ride this just the once.

The park is built on the side of a mountain with the entrance at the top and the main attractions down at the bottom. The entrance to the coasters is themed around a 50s diner with some great looking hot rod cars that are only there for theming.

These hotrods however are used as seating in the restaurant area I assume to give the drive in feel that was commonplace in that decade. Thomas seems to like the Marilyn statue, I don't recall him checking what was under the skirt, but he may have done.

Boooooooo, the Schwarzkopf coaster was closed, and had been for some time. Looked like an interesting layout all the same. This coaster at the bottom of the mountain was black, the park also had a red one, a blue one, a yellow one, and a green one all in the same area, which I thought was pretty cool. This is why the SLC had to be purple, all the other colours had already been taken.

Here you can see bits of the other coasters, you have to appreciate all this coloured steel in one place. It's almost as if someone painted this; some red here, and blue over there, and yellow there and in the background a bit of blue. Now where's the black, black, black, black, BLACK, BLACK, BLACK (proceeds to destroy everything in the nearby vicinity).

The blue one is big boom, which until the opening of Oblivion featured the steepest drop on any rollercoaster in the world. Oblivion at Alton Towers has cars that feature 2 rows of people. This on the other hand used a normal train of 7 rows. So I will leave it to you to think how taking a near vertical drop in the back row feels being pulled by all the cars in front of it.

OK, I'll tell you how it feels.


You really do feel that you're going to fall out and you get a new appreciation for up stop wheels.

The loop that follows is pretty scary too because you've barely recovered from the drop. You have to love the way all this steel intertwines. I tried to find a shot which would feature all 4 cars at the same time, but failed.

The yellow coaster looks quite gentle but the cars rotate, sometimes at a very dizzying speed. Of the four this was actually my favourite. It has been the closest I've been to riding a waltzer on a rail. It differs from most spinning rides in that there cars are still connected as a train rather than running independently.

The green coaster is a standard corkscrew and the worst of the bunch.

The red coaster is the camel coaster and is particularly weird in that it has plenty of length but no steep drops; all the declines and inclines are at a gentle angle. If there was such a thing as a steel scenic coaster then it would probably be this.

One great thing to mention about Japan is their honesty. When I was queueing for the green coaster I inadverantly left my camera at the station. When I returned half an hour later it was where I had left it even though the ride had still been running in the interim. There is no way this would happen in the UK. Man I love this place!

Loving all this steel I decided I needed to get some aerial shots. The park did have some tower rides higher up the slopes so I should be able to get some good shots. The first port of call was the shot tower.

I love this shot, the ride operator had no problem with me using the camera, nor did she mind me choosing to sit in the right row. The park was dead and this attraction was a walk-on. Here you can see most of the rides together, with the closed Schwarzkopf to the left.

One other thing that camera people were taking advantage of was the pedal powered monorail that took you around the rides. Being able to stop the car where you wanted lead to some great photo opportunities.

The park does have a decent selection of other rides to eat up the queues, that weren't there on the day we were. The Pirate Ship was alright but I was really itching to ride one of the giant one.

Perhaps the most colourful Enterprise I've ever seen, certainly looks a whole lot better than the all white models you usually get at parks. I think this worked pretty well beside the wheel which was painted in a similar way.

"and the winner of best use of colour in a theme park goes to .......... Nasu Highland"

Even the spin rides were nicely themed using concentric circles to pull the rides together. This is more appreciated on high up rides such as the parachute ride I was on now. You can just make out the batflyer in the top right and the jukebox entry to the coasters in the centre.

The shot tower with the tangled mess of coasters behind it. Still a good shot methinks. Just a shame the shot tower wasn't running at the time.

The last of the high up shots at the bottom of the park, not that I was getting bored of this, but there was half of the park still waiting to be seen.

Here's the SLC in all its purple glory. It looks a bit out of place not being installed in amongst all the other coasters. I like the colour scheme on the octopus raide in the foreground.

Over in the other half of the park the main attraction seemed to be this 2-storey carousel. They'd definitely done a great job with the theming on it anyway.

If it wasn't for the Yank-Tied Eagle you could convince yourself that you were in a small European backstreet. As you get closer to the sign you'll discover that it's made of lego.

The park has a little model village section and I thought I'd be able to get a shot that made it look like a full size town. However this particular path seemed to be popular with the other visitors and I couldn't get a shot without them being in it. So I gave up.

For a park that has some great theming, their jungle ride seemed to be in a state of disrepair and could have done with a bit of tender loving care. Maybe it was on its way out.

Is this perhaps the most dangerous ride ever made. Given the position of the cars on their circuit and that there is no room in the centre for them to pass you know that as soon as it starts you're going to have a collision on your hands. Unfortunately nobody dared ride it for that very reason, so I never got to find out.

Dark Castle was the park's ghost ride and from what I recall it was actually pretty decent, having a nice long circuit within the building and plenty of effects to keep you entertained. I ended up riding with that Delores woman who seemed a bit lost, but I made sure my pockets were zipped up. Wouldn't want anything going missing.

The park's gift shop contained the normal park fare but also some curios such as this kitten rock band. Now for a country as sensible and disciplined as Japan seeing this was a bit odd to be honest. The best animal show I've ever seen at a theme park was at Holiday Park in Germany a few year's ago (those of you who witnessed this calamity of a show will already be laughing at the mere mention of it). If however this had actually been an animal show, I might have put this to the top of the list.

At the far end of the park was this huge man made lake which actually turned out to be some fishing ponds. The mystery of the woman holding the fish had been revealed. You could actually catch your dinner here. There was a sitting area with some heating areas on which to cook the fish once you'd caught it. The little octagonal building was a foot spa at which you could rest your weary feet from all the walking you've done.

Now why can't other parks have that?

It was almost time to leave so I tried running as far up the hill as time would allow to get a nice shot of the park from a distance. Shame I failed miserably hahah!

I liked Nasu Highland a lot. It has a great selection of rides and being stuck out in the hills, some excellent views to enjoy at the same time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great photos of Nasu Highland! This park's coasters seem like a Meisho showcase. It's a shame parks in the western world haven't tried out installing Meisho rides (a ride like Big Boom could be cheap and thrilling, a change from the expensive and thrilling that the European manufacturers provide).

9:37 PM  

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