MISHIMA, Shizuoka -- An adventure park with a 17-meter-tall play structure tower will open in this central Japan city on Aug. 8 in a bid to attract visitors and boost the area's economic fortunes.
The "Dragon Castle" park boasts a five-tiered hexagonal steel-frame tower. Local amusement company Fujiko, which operates the city's Mishima Skywalk -- Japan's longest pedestrian suspension bridge -- began construction on the park in early February. The Dragon Castle along National Route 1 is near the ruins of Yamanaka Castle, which was built in the Sengoku (warring states) period (1467 to the late 16th century) and is now designated as a national historical site. It's also known for its waffle-shaped moats.
The five-tiered tower is 17 meters tall and 36 meters wide, and has six steel pillars inside and 12 pillars outside. Visitors can move around the pillars by crossing swaying wood and rope bridges, loose nets, monkey bars or other thrilling routes.
There are currently activities at four tiers at 1, 3, 8 and 13 meters, respectively. Kids between 100 and 140 centimeters tall can enjoy 16 types of activities on the lowest tier. The remaining three tiers are for those standing 125 cm or taller, and are packed with 92 types of activities. On the 13-meter tier, adventurous visitors can sit on midair picnic benches and walk on a beam sticking out of the structure to ring a bell at the end. The 17-meter-high top tier is an observation deck connecting six corners of the tower. Beside the tower are also climbing trees.
The Dragon Castle is apparently the fifth attraction of its kind in the country.
Fujiko executive managing director Takehiro Miyazawa commented, "We'd like to bring in tourists from other prefectures to the western side of (Mount) Hakone, and provide activities that are different from Skywalk."
Admission is 4,000 yen (about $30) for high school students and older, and 3,000 yen (approx. $23) for junior high school students and younger. Children who meet the height and weight requirements can enjoy the kids' course on the lowest tier for 2,000 yen (roughly $15). The observation deck on the top is accessible for 400 yen (about $3).
(Japanese original by Hiroshi Ishikawa, Numazu Local Bureau)