It was a beautiful sunny day when we decided to go to an amusement park. COVID-19 was already taking the world by storm and countries were starting to lock themselves down. Japan is an exemption as business establishments are not on a total lockdown, but the country is still responsible for taking preventive measures. We were a bit surprised when Fuji-Q Highland was still open to the public, but fret not because only restaurants, souvenir shops, and the ice-skating rink were open during that time.
World-record breaking roller coasters have gone quiet
Fuji-Q Highland (sometimes spelled as “Fujikyu) is one of Japan’s most popular amusement parks. It is situated in Fujiyoshida in Yamanashi prefecture at the foot of Mount Fuji. This park has countless attractions including the Guinness World Record-breaking roller coaster “Eejanaika”; former world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster “Fujiyama”; and one of the world’s most terrifying coasters which has a maximum falling angle of 121 degrees, “Takabisha”. I first went here during the fall of 2018 and it was crowded and queues to different attractions went on forever. We’d spend at least an hour and a half just to enjoy a 2-3-minute ride of a lifetime. Nonetheless, we still enjoyed these rides.
An amusement park from a different world
Revisiting this park brought me a different set of mixed emotions. No crowds, no queues, and the exciting feeling of being in an amusement park was replaced with melancholy. We saw first-hand the impact of the pandemic on Japanese establishments. People are afraid to go out, paranoid about getting sick, running out of masks and alcohol, anxious about the risk of unemployment, and the country has seen a huge drop of local and foreign visitors. You cannot hear the screams of fright and delight anymore in Fuji-Q. The background music seems lonely now.
At the entrance, before entering the park, the park attendant had to check our temperatures and we were required to clean our hands with alcohol. At that time, there were no infections recorded yet in Yamanashi prefecture, but they did a good job of taking these precautionary measures. The attraction called “Cool Jappaan” welcomed us, but this time, there were no water splashes, no excited faces, and no wet and wild traces.
We continued to roam around and experience Fuji-Q without the crowds. It made it seem somehow smaller whereas before I’d always seen Fuji-Q as a large amusement park, like Disneyland. One of the most beautiful views, Mt. Fuji at Shining Flower Ferris wheel, was empty. No one was panicking at the Panic Clock or squawking at the Labyrinth of Fear. Deafening-silence seemed much scarier than screams and shouts.
Finding some joy in the quiet
If there was anything that I found rewarding in visiting this park, it was the Naruto × BORUTO FUJI Hidden Leaf Village. Although the main attractions were closed, the village itself was still open which made me feel that as if I were in the real world of Naruto.
Seeing Mt. Fuji lightened up our moods a little bit. Taking in the backdrop of Mt Fuji at the ice-skating rink compensated for the gloominess of Fuji-Q during COVID. Not to mention we also got to enjoy another jaw-dropping view of Eejanaika’s coasters.
This too shall pass
If there is one lesson that I’ve learned during this pandemic, it’s to appreciate every single moment of your life, whether good or bad. What’s happening currently in our lives now will matter months, years, and decades from now. The places you’ve been to, the people you’ve been with, all the memories and experiences will create a path for us. All we need right now is hold on and try to let this situation bring out the best in us rather than the worst. One day, we will revisit all the places we’ve been and make new memories to cherish.
Note: Why not head to Fuji-Q on our Tanuki Group Tour? Enjoy Japan’s most popular amusement park at the base of Mt Fuji!