By Tsholofelo Babudi
To some bungee jumping seems like a death trap, but it’s an exhilarating and liberating experience, and I knew this was something that would make my 31st birthday special.
Now as I was in snow country the first thing that may come to one’s mind is either skiing or snowboarding. This was in April which isn’t exactly peak snow season and so I had to find an activity which didn’t include the famous white powder.
The Snow country is a region comprising 7 towns spread across 3 prefectures. Minamiounuma, Ounuma, Tokamachi, Tsunan, Echigo-Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture, Minakami in Gunma and Sekae in Nagano Prefecture. Now the thread that connects all these towns and where the name comes from is the heavy snow the region receives and with it comes skiing and snowboarding.
Unbeknownst to most people this region is home to not one but two bungee jumping spots.Both located in Minakami. The Sarugakyo Bungy (62m), overlooking the Suidokanbashi valley, and the Minakami Bungy (42m), overlooking the Suwakyo bridge.
The Sarukakyo being the bigger drop costs ¥12000 and the Minakami bungy costs ¥10000. There’s no prices for guessing which one I went with, The Sarugakyo Bungy.
How to get there?
Despite the mountainous terrain, I believe one of the best ways to see Japan is by bike, more on that for another day. My journey was by bicycle, as most of my trips throughout Japan have been.. I began my trip from Minamiuonuma around 7am, going through the onsen town of Yuzawa, passing through the ski resorts of Naeba and ultimately arriving in Minakami at 2pm. I covered a total of 80 kilometers and now I was ready to take the leap of faith. Now if you are not a sucker for punishment like me, you may either choose the self drive option or use the public transport. If driving you exit off the Kanetsu highway and take the route to Sarugakyo Onsen. As you arrive in Sarugakyo you will see the prominent signs of the Bungy Japan’s logo, simply follow them into the driveway towards the parking. If travelling by either bullet train or local train directions can be found here under ‘Access, Parking and Map’
Leap of Faith
Now after much trepidation, trembling and fear, and much reassuring from the staff the instructor asked me if I had any last words? Any last words, seriously?!? Though the words uttered cannot be repeated in the public domain, they were to the effect of having more courage and doing more things out of my comfort zone.
1-2-3 Bungy! Those are the last words you hear before taking the leap of faith.
After a few bounces I had just completed my first bungy experience. The crew then hoisted me up the bridge and untied me. The experience itself was nothing short of magical. The crew was very helpful throughout and I was thrilled to have achieved one of my bucket list goals. Visit http://www.bungyjapan.com/ for your next adventure.
Visit snow-country.jp to discover what more this region has to offer.