Tobu Zoo, Tokyo, Japan
Thursday morning was set to be beautiful. Unfortunately, some stuff regarding my job back home found its way in to making the next few days slightly less bearable, and although I'd planned to switch to an office closer to home after September, it looks like that won't happen at this point, I wasn't going to let the incompetence of others ruin the rest of my epic vacation. Isaac and I slept later than we'd planned and after discussing what to do, we decided to go to Tobu Zoo together, so that Isaac (and I) could check out the Zoo, and I could get the credits he got a couple of days prior. The only downside is that Tobu Zoo is really rural, and about 2 hours from Yokohama, which is on the south side of Tokyo.
Having said all of that, it was worth the trip out there. Getting there on the train takes you to a newly remodeled station out in the Tokyo suburbs and farm land. The quaint little town didn't seem to see much in the way of caucasian or generally non-asians. We walked to the zoo in the beautiful weather (another reason this ended up being today). I'm not sure what the park is like on the weekends or when school is out, but during midweek with school in, the park was absolutely dead. We paid our entrance fee and for a ride all day pass and headed in, hoping that all of the coasters would open, and they did.
You can walk for quite a ways in Tobu wihtout seeing anyone, employee or patron alike. Our first stop was Regina, the wooden coaster built over a small lake, as it was further out from the rest of the rides. I'd heard good things about this ride when people started going to Japan to ride coasters, but in recent years reviews hadn't been so good. Isaac wasn't able to ride in the back on his initial visit, but today the crew didn't seem to mind, so the back it was.
Regina-Of the 2 wooden coasters on the trip, I was surprised at how much I liked them both, but Regina was absolutely fantastic in the back. You're pulled over the first drop and get some nice airtime. Then after you go up into the turnaround, there's a rampy drop that eventually drops out into a regular drop, and it was great! Kind of like a double down, but not quite. The rest of the ride has laterals and airtime, and I really, really enjoyed it. I went in thinking it would be just okay, and it was actually really great.
We walked over to see if Kawasimi was open yet. The ride park, which was absolutely dead, is very nice. Theres one of the nicest looking wave swingers I've seen though. Its parted out for the kids sections and regular sections, has some decent rides, and at least 2 haunted attractions. Once we got over to Kawasimi, we were the only 2 people there, so we rode in the front of an empty train.
Kawasimi-I've been looking forward to the Intamin Mega Lite for quite some time. Although a little sluggish in the morning, it was a really fun coaster, with a great first drop and much aitime afterwards, though mostly floaty airtime in the morning. The hill under the lift was good, and all the hops at the end had airtime. It would be much better later with a fuller train.
Next we walked over to the nicely new looking (but lacking in shade) kiddy area of the park. Over here we found Tentomushi, which Isaac had ridden previously on his day trip. There wasn't anyone on the platform at first, but a young man came over and rand the ride for us. Its a basic medium Tivoli, and we got two passes on it. Then we walked over to the other kids section where the newest kiddy ride is. I pondered whether I wanted to ride, but since there was no one there, other than us, really, I let go of my self respect and we rode the cute otter themed powered coaster.
After that we went over to the cheese themed Ferris Wheel for a ride in a nice, air conditioned cabin, then we walked leisurely thru the actual Zoo, which is very nice and well kept. We fed a bear, watched as they readied parts of the park for autumn (They were putting in flowers for the new garden). I assume the Zoo is the money maker for the park, but again, the rides may be more popular on weekends and in season.
Once we were done animal gazing, we headed back over on the quaint inverted monorail and took another couple rides on Kawasimi. In between that we hit up the haunted walk thru. It started with a quick video, and honestly, it was one of the better done haunts we did. Very dark, and though I think there were only 2 people in there to scare us, they did a fantastic job.
There was a 3D haunted simulator that we didn't bother with. Our last ride was another back seat ride on Regina, and much like Kawasimi, with fuller trains and the rides warming up, there was much more airtime.
After we finished with the Zoo, we headed back to where we started in Japan, Asukasa. We wanted to go back and do some shopping near the temple area we discovered when we first arrived, as well as hit up the Tokyo Skytree. Skytree is the second tallest building in the world, and also owned by Tobu (among other companies). Because Tokyo Tower was getting dwarfed, they needed a much taller tower to handle the Tokyo Metro Area's broadcasting needs, so Skytree was built. For about 2000 Yen you can go to the main 3 levels, which include panoramic views, shops, restaurants, a bar, a glass floor, and more. And for another 1000 or so yen, you can go up to the highest occupiable floor, which we declined to do. Next time I visit, though, I may just try it out.
From Skytree, you get spectacular views of Tokyo, Yokohama, and many miles around. It shows you just how large the Tokyo Metro Region really is. After spending some time up top, we headed back down and went to the food court to eat. One of the food stands had amazing food, and was the busiest with everyone local, so we got food from there. We went back over to the shopping area by the Temple that we discovered our first morning to pick up some gifts. Most shops were closed, but we found what we came for. By that point, it was dark, and the temple area was once again empty, so I took a few night shots of the pagoda and other buildings all lit up.
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