Children thrilled as bamboo roller coaster rides up in eastern Japanese city after COVID hiatus

The starting point of a bamboo roller coaster ride is seen in Tako City, Chiba Prefecture on June 12, 2022. (Mainichi/Tadakazu Nakamura)

TAKO, Chiba — A bamboo roller coaster that was set up at a festival site here drew crowds of children and adults who enjoyed the ride for the first time in a long time after a hiatus triggered by a coronavirus pandemic .

The bamboo coaster was installed on June 12 during the Hydrangea Festival in Tako City, Chiba Prefecture, which was held for the first time in three years. The one-day attraction dates back to 1985, when locals created the ride in conjunction with the annual festival after being inspired by the opening of Tokyo Disneyland in the same prefecture two years earlier, using bamboo they have cut and assembled.

As the festival had been canceled for the past two years due to the pandemic, the children were more than ever thrilled with this year’s ride.

Passengers on the ride take a sled that slides down a 50-meter-long slope made of bamboo from a height of 5 meters. Once the ride is over, a group of 10 residents pulls the sled to the starting point using ropes. As the coaster began to roll rapidly down the incline, rattling noises, shouts and squeals of delight were heard from the riders.

Arata Hirayama, 9, a fourth-grade student from the prefectural city of Tomisato, tried the ride with his friend. “That was quick,” he said with a smile. His father Tomoaki, 43, commented: “I had fun taking a ride here as a kid so I wanted my son to have the same experience and thank those who built it.”

Members of the city’s Juvenile Counselor Liaison Council and Local Children’s Association Liaison Council felled about 300 bamboos in the city in May and assembled them the day before the festival. The coaster was initially about half its current size, but gradually grew larger after gaining a good reputation.

Shuichi Katsumata, 47, who runs a construction company in the city and heads the local liaison council for juvenile counselors, said: “It was difficult to prepare the coaster and the assembly work took me hurts my back, but I’m happy to see kids smiling. We’d like to continue the ride next year and beyond.

(Japanese original by Tadakazu Nakamura, Narita Bureau)

About Walter J. Leslie

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