2017/09/06 What's On
Best Indoor Rock Climbing Gyms In Japan
by Jordan Mounteer
Although rock climbing and bouldering have been a popular past time in other parts of the world, it’s only been in the last few decades that Japan has really taken an interest in the sport – and like anything the Japanese adopt, they put their own spin on things. Many of the world class climbers that come out of Japan are some of the most technically skilled, and as more and more people have started to see the appeal of climbing, so too has Japan seen a rise in climbing gyms. We take a look at some of the best gyms.
B-Pump – 1-1-8 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
A super popular choice in urban Tokyo, B-Pump might seem like a split between a climbing wall and a futuristic sports arena, and located in the heart of Akihabara it fits right in with its glowing LED walls run across their walls like fluorescent veins of indigo. There are some ceilings here and the staff are super friendly and always having their course engineers come up with new and challenging problems and routes – but that shouldn’t deter beginners from getting their hands chalky. The gym offers a number of lessons, from beginner to adults, and though particularly busy during peak hours you can usually get in plenty of climbing, and the 1647 square foot space means you never feel overly crowded – and, obviously, this encourages some good spectatorship. This gym by far feels like one of the ‘cleanest’, and being part of the Pump franchise (which has gyms all over metropolitan Japan) they manage to balance a fun and educational atmosphere with a relatively cheap entrance and registration fee. Expect to pay ¥1,800 + tax to register, and another ¥1,800 for a single day use. We recommend going later at night during the weekday for a reduced price. Additionally, the ¥90,000 and ¥120,000 membership prices for students and adults respectively is a budget choice for those who expect to climb a lot!
Fitness Climbing Studio Lago – 1-7-3 Honan, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
Another great cheap location, Fitness Climbing Studio Lago (like B-Pump) enforces a registration fee of ¥1500, but on weekdays they have very inexpensive 3-hour tickets available. It’s a bit unfortunate if you’re planning on staying longer, but generally speaking for most of us 3 hours of rigorous climbing is more than enough for the fore arms. They have a number of excellent walls and courses here, including some really challenging ceilings and arches. The advantage of this one is that it’s open until 11 pm on weekdays, so you can almost always find the time… the downside? It’s a bit far out of the way and not as centrally located as some of the more trendy Pump gyms.
Peki Peki – 6-19-14 Jingumae, Shibuya-kun, Tokyo
The whimsically named Peki Peki is a bit bigger than some other bouldering gyms, and certainly accommodates its size with a welcoming atmosphere. There’s a real sense of cleanliness here, and while some bouldering gyms feel like they’re stuck in a the bottom of a warehouse, there’s a real brightness to Peki Peki, and the huge glass window at one end that runs the height of the floor to the ceiling brings in a lot of natural daylight. Additionally, there is a huge variety of routes here, ranging from beginner to expert. One thing that Japanese bouldering gyms seem to have over North American bouldering gyms is the sheer amount of holds. Often, Canadian and American gyms are a bit stingy with the routes and holds they put up, but Peki Peki’s walls are a veritable rainbow of holds, and because of this it seems a lot more friendly – in particular to novices and beginners. In fact, Peki Peki’s top floor that is specifically geared towards kids (and called, of course, PEKID’S Peki Peki). That doesn’t mean there isn’t a space for intermediates and experts to try their skills, and the first two bottom floors of this extensive place feature routes ranging from a V2 to the occasional V7. The mats are always super clean here, and you can tell the staff are super diligent in trying to make sure everything is spick-and-span. However, you can expect to pay more here as a result; a day pass will set you back in the range of $2160 after a registration fee.
Miyashita Park – 6-20-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Another Shibuya treasure, this is actually unique to our list in that it’s an outside gym. The whole area was originally an area where homeless tended to congregate, but in recent years it has been redeveloped (in no small part because of Nike taking an interest and revitalizing it), and now it is one of the hidden treasures for climbers who want some fresh air while working on their finger techniques. Since 2011 it’s been a favorite area of skaters as well, and the subculture really seems to have taken to it – better yet, it has perhaps the cheapest rate out of all the gyms, and ¥350 will give you two hours. Although still officially a bouldering wall, some of the heights on this one mean that it is partially roped, so if you’re afraid of heights be warned. All the same, on a summer day it’s a great way to spend some time in Tokyo and get a good view!
Base Camp – 3-10-15 Itabashi-ku, Tokyo
If you’re looking for one of the more prestigious gyms, simply in terms of technical routes – or you’re an amateur climber looking to up their game – than Base Camp offers one of the more consistently challenging (in a good way) gyms. Designed by pro climber Yuji Hirayama. One of the things I admire about Japanese climbing is that, while it still emphasizes strength, there is a huge degree of style and agility required to really finish the problems you find in bouldering gyms. Yuji’s is no exception; for someone like me who isn’t overly strong, it was nice to come up against routes that required some problem solving, technique, and more than a little improvisation. Similar to Peki Peki, a day rate at peak hours will cost ¥2160 – wanting a bit more of a break? Wait until 6 pm and it drops to ¥1650.
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