Every now and again something pops up in the zeitgeist that comes right out of left field. Some of these things are fads that slip away as quickly as they came (remember twerking? No, probably not), but some things just seem to not only hang around, but absolutely explode.
One of those things that is hanging around – quite literally – is bouldering in Japan. As one of the new events included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, this sport – in which competitors climb indoor rock faces – is constantly being talked about and is never off of the TV, making stars of Akiyo Noguchi, Miwa Oba and Risa Ota. And don’t let their resemblance to pop idols fool you, these women, able to perform pull-ups with just index fingers, are rock hard.
There have been a few bouldering places in Nagoya for a while, but with the explosion of popularity has come an expansion of bouldering gyms. Below is a choice few
I’m starting with Bouldering House Knot for little other reason than it is the hall to which I go. In the slightly hipsterish area of Endouji, Knot kind of stands out amongst the bistro cafes and upmarket restaurants and hand-crafted leather shops, and is the newest climbing gym on the block.
It’s a pretty small gym, but it has a nice variety for climbs, from very simple to some pretty dramatic overhangs, meaning it’s good for all ability levels. They are also foreigner friendly, with admission forms in English as well as Japanese.
Pinnacle has a number of climbing gyms in the area. A friend of mine raves about the gym in Obu, but the Sakae branch, though a bit smaller, is most accessible, just a couple of minutes walk from Yabacho subway station.
There is a wide variety of climbs, with some really simple walls, and others that would be ideally suited for more expert climbers
This is the main bouldering gym in Nagoya, and as far as I can tell, it’s the longest running. Over in Kamimaezu, it is particularly foreigner friendly (it advertised with NAGMAG some years ago and has an English language website) and is welcoming for all levels.
Thumbs Up is huge, with six walls of varying difficulty. There is a massive climb outside (pictured) as well as a wall just for children, meaning that you can bring your kids along too, and get all envious as they scamper up the wall with ease after you struggled all day.
If you are not the athletic type but your kids are, Play Mountain in Moriyama ward is the ideal choice as it has kids classes and is extremely family friendly. Not to say that it is only for children, as it has challenges for climbers of all ages.
Play Mountain has loads of variety in its climbing walls with a top rope area, overhangs, boulders and the unusually shaped ‘Potato Rock’.
By Mark Guthrie
Photos: Mark Guthrie (Own work)
Photo: via http://pinna2.com/gallery/s201511003.jpg
Photo: via http://playmountain.co.jp/nagoya/guide.html