Over a year ago, I threw myself off a bridge and accomplished my top bucket list item: bungee jumping in New Zealand.
A couple months ago, I bungee jumped again, but this time in Itsuki-mura, Japan. It’s safe to say that I have a new obsession with trying to bungee jump in every country I visit.
Itsuki-mura’s bungee (or “bungy” – both spellings are fine) was higher than the Queenstown one I did, standing at 77 meters (approx. 252 feet). As of July, they shifted the bungee site to a slightly smaller bridge (59 meters), so I was fortunate enough to jump off the higher one. Although not the highest bungee jump in Japan, the Itsuki-mura site was deemed the highest bridge bungee in Japan before it was moved sites.
I came across the bungee jump by accident on Facebook (of all things!) and literally booked a spot within seconds, because I’m impulsive and get extremely excited over anything adrenaline-related. Plus, when I read past reports about it and saw that Kumamon (Kumamoto’s mascot, who more or less became Japan’s favorite mascot) even jumped it, I knew it had to be done.
Itsuki-mura is tucked away in a never-ending array of mountains, so it was a beautiful backdrop to the photos – but just a fairly long train and bus (which only came every 1.5 hours) to get there. I’m surprised I even made it there at all, especially with the language barrier. Luckily, the Japanese being Japanese, when I had asked for help about which bus to take, the conductor dropped everything he was doing (literally – he dropped all the yen on the counter) and rushed out to the bus stop sign as he pointed and used broken English to tell me which one to take and where to stand. God bless Japanese people and their politeness.
Itsuki-mura was so remote that the only convenience store was located across from a petrol station near the bottom of the hill. Otherwise, I don’t think any stores or signs of life could be seen for miles. But the remoteness of the town made the bungee jump that much more special, since it made me focus on the firsthand beauty of nature in front of me.
After a brief awkward encounter with a few people (who ended up working at Bungy Japan), I was told to explore for a bit since I arrived so early for my jump. It wasn’t until I walked away from the guy who helped me that I realized that, holy crap, this was the same guy who was working the AJ Hackett Bungy in New Zealand when I jumped in 2014. And he was wearing the same shoes.
Talk about a small world.
So yes, before I jumped, he confirmed that it was indeed him after I showed him my New Zealand photo (how ironic that he was IN my New Zealand photos as well).
Since the jumps in Japan were considerably cheaper than New Zealand’s (especially with the yen to NZD conversion), I did two jumps – the first forward and the second backward. And as luck would have it, it even started sprinkling a little bit on my second one.
I was rather amused to go after a group of five macho Japanese guys, all who seemed considerably nervous about jumping off a bridge in the cold weather (most were smoking and bouncing around, speaking Japanese a mile a minute). They seemed to get enjoyment out of my Kumamon hat and the fact that I was jumping alone (the world seems to think you always need a partner to do things).
Unlike my jump in New Zealand, both jumps in Japan seemed to last a lot longer, perhaps because the bungee cord was rather short and therefore resulted in a lot more bouncing up and down. I also felt nauseous after the second jump, since a shorter cord also meant more spinning while upside down before finally being lowered into the rescue boat below. Long story short, just don’t eat your bento before jumping, even if it’s over an hour before.
Oh, and the horrid purple Crocs were lent by Bungy Japan, since my hiking boots were apparently too high for them to get the straps tightened around. By no means am I ever promoting Crocs – I just wanted to ensure that my boots (and myself) wouldn’t fly out of the straps, so Crocs it was.
2672-8 Kou, Itsuki-mura