Toyohashi Non Hoi Park is a botanical garden and zoo with a small set of amusement rides. For over two decades it was home to the imaginatively named Coaster, a medium-sized ride from Senyo that my old trip report described as an unexpected gem. Sadly the hardware reached the end of its service life last year, and it was retired in favour of a much smaller family coaster that frees up an enormous chunk of land for future development. Nonhoi Coaster (#2186) was built by Senyo, and is a clone of two similarinstallations in other parts of the country.
The train was designed with Japanese children in mind, making it a challenge for the average western enthusiast. Nevertheless it was possible for me to shoehorn myself in by sitting sideways with a lap bar pulled down across one knee. The seatbelt was able to close (just) and that was enough to keep the operator happy. The positioning wasn't exactly comfortable, thanks to a moulded seat divider poking into my rear, but I'm wellusedtoputtingupwithdiscomfort for my credits. Our presence in the train made for considerable merriment from those around us, and we did our bit for good international relations by waving and smiling at all the cameras pointed in our direction.
The lift hill was slow even by local standards, taking almost a minute to raise the four car train to its five meter apex, but on the positive side it engaged and disengaged smoothly. The gravity-driven portion of the layout was made up of a turnaround, a brief dip, a descending helix, and a turn back to the station, and it was negotiated without any jarring whatsoever. When the train came to a halt at the end of our second lap the children on board leapt out and ran back to join the queue again, perhaps suggesting a new generation of coaster enthusiasts in the making.
There were two other attractions of interest to us today. At the back of the park we found a three room target shooting dark ride, with high quality animatronics and enormous targets similar to the ones we'd encountered at Kezouji Park. We followed that up with the thirty-six car BFOFW which allowed us to conclusively confirm that there were no bonus credits hidden elsewhere on the grounds.
Kariya-shi Kotsu Jido Yuen
24th October 2015
My original plan for today didn't include Kariya-shi Kotsu Jido Yuen, but I decided to throw in a stop when it became apparent that we'd have a three quarter hour wait to change trains at Kariya Station just over five hundred metres away. The brief layover had more than enough time to tick off Megan's credit, but it wasn't exactly satisfying; were I planning the same trip again I'd definitely switch to a later train so as to allow a minimum of one hour at the park.
Four years ago tickets to ride Kids Coaster cost just ¥50, and it was a pleasant surprise to discover that hadn't changed. We bought our tickets from a vending machine and joined the back of the neat queue that had been formed by local children despite the lack of designated cattle grid, something that would never happen elsewhere in the world. Megan and I had no choice but to climb into separate cars for space reasons, though it wasn't actually that difficult to shoehorn ourselves on board, and we were soon trundling up the small lift hill. The descent consisted almost entirely of gently sloping right turns, punctuated by a token left just before the final brake.
24th October 2015
Akashi Park is a long thin park located a little over a kilometre from Kitashinkawa Station on the Meitetsu Mikawa Line. Our train broke into glorious sunshine a few minutes before arrival, but this wasn't actually good news; the jeans that both of us had chosen for the day were now far too warm, and the lack of shade made the prospect of a walk decidedly unappealing. If there had been a taxi available we'd have jumped into it, but the area was predominantly residential and as a result there were none in sight.
The park is accessed by a pedestrian bridge, and standing on it provides a pleasant overview showing the Go Karts, a Carousel, a BFOFW, and a few spin rides. The coaster is right at the back, hidden behind a clump of trees. When we arrived there, however, we learned that the only place to buy tickets was at the entrance some five minutes walk away. There was little point in both of us retracing our steps, and thus I told HRH to park herself on a shaded bench while I went back to the ticket booth, invoking a string of colourful metaphors on the way.
Ride tickets cost ¥100 each, and given the walk it was tempting to preemptively buy spares, but in the end I decided against it, reasoning that Kid's Coaster Kujira Ku-Chan (#2187) was a family coaster and thus not something likely to break into top ten lists. The experience was indeed unmemorable, with the layout being a variant of that we'd ridden earlier in the day; the only difference being a station rotated ninety degrees.
24th October 2015
We were anticipating a two hour train journey to get to Suzuka Circuit, but the actual time ended up being closer to three thanks to a technical fault on the Kintetsu Line that delayed our planned train by over half an hour. It was mid afternoon by the time we arrived at Shiroko Station, and though buses were available we decided that it'd be better to take a taxi for time reasons. The journey to the circuit took about fifteen minutes and cost ¥1200.
The park was busy when we arrived due to it being a race day, and given that we chose to forego the "free pass" option in favour of individual ride tickets. Our decision was quickly validated by the discovery of a three quarter hour wait for Adventure Drive (#2188), a bizarre roller coaster from Hoei Sangyo Ltd with two variable power cable launches configured based on how loud riders scream.
The park has invested a lot of money into theming of the ride, and it shows; most of the track has faux railway sleepers, and there are large artificial plant stalks wrapped around the support structures. The launch segments are decorated with lighting effects, and one whole section of track passes under a series of stone archways. It is also great to watch; guests looking on from the midway are treated to live entertainment as the normally reserved Japanese scream at the top of their lungs into the track-side microphones.
However, the actual ride hardware is, in a word, dire. The layout features an incredible ten separate brake segments, excluding those at the end of the ride, and the result is an average speed akin to a walking pace, which is borderline embarrassing on a launched coaster. Worse yet, the tracking feels like a Chinese knock-off on a bad day; every join brings with it another thump that hurts far more than it should on such a slow ride. I found myself reminded of a maxim I've not needed in a while; you can polish a turd, but it still smells. Adventure Drive is a thoroughly polished category one turd.
We disembarked and promptly headed over to Rocky Coaster where we found no queue whatsoever, and Megan decided that we should sit in the backwards facing rear seat that I'd chosen to eschew four years before. There was a restrictive overhead restraint that made the car quite cramped, but the tracking was smooth enough for it to not be a major problem, and indeed the overall experience (though dull) was lightyears ahead of the ride we'd waited much longer for. It would have been nice to do a forward facing lap for comparison, but we decided against it on cost grounds.
We had begun our slow meander back to the entrance when we accidentally discovered Batto's Power Crystal Hunt, a target shooting dark ride added to the park for the 2013 season. The scenery within was bright and colourful, but lacking a certain something compared to the other stellar dark rides we'd experienced during our trip.
On the way out I decided to wander through the gift shop in the hope of finding a Suzuka Circuit polo shirt to go with the one I bought at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in 2008. There was one that I liked, but I quickly put it down when I read the price tag; in what parallel universe would anyone spend ¥13500 (~€101) on a shirt?
Sea Train Land
24th October 2015
I'd written an optional evening stop at Sea Train Land into our itinerary, but had planned to leave the decision about whether or not to invoke it to Megan on the grounds that she was the one who needed a credit. As things turned out, however, the enormous number of people looking for dinner at Nagoya Station made the decision for us; we assumed (correctly) that going somewhere else for an hour or two would give the queues a chance to dissipate. We thus took the Nagoya City Subway Meiko Line to Nagoyako Station and walked towards the brightly lit BFOFW.
Parks that own Zamperla family coasters can be divided into four distinct categories. The first group will not allow adults to ride, sometimes dishonestly claiming that this is due to a manufacturer restriction. The second group will allow adults, but only when they accompany children, a discriminatory policy sometimes nicknamed "the paedophile rule". The third group will allow adult riders to sit across the middle of two seats, with the lap bar pulled down between their legs. The fourth insist that all passengers regardless of body size need to shoehorn themselves into one side of a car. The latter policy was in use tonight on Family Coaster, and while sitting down wasn't a problem, closing the seatbelt was, as the buckle was positioned at the bottom of the seat. After thirty seconds of embarrassed contortionism I eventually managed it, allowing me to enjoy a single lap.
Since my last visit the park has added a three-room target shooting dark ride from Senyo. Legend of Salamander was a near-clone of what we'd ridden earlier in the day, with the only difference being a vibration mechanism in the seats that provided direct feedback every time a target was hit. Our ¥500 ride tickets included a complimentary packet of colouring pencils, a somewhat unusual product bundling that probably makes perfect sense to the local populace.