TRAVEL GUIDE: The ultimate guide to paragliding in Japan
American author Hellen Keller once said: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
When you talk about thrilling experiences, paragliding usually comes to mind. This outdoor activity combines the excitement of flying and getting closer to the sky with exploring a beautiful place from up above. Somehow, it gives you a feeling that the world is yours—even just for a while.
That’s exactly how it felt for comedian Michael V when he finally ticked paragliding off his bucket list during his recent Japan trip. Opening up about how it used to be just a dream to delight in such an experience, he said: “Nung sinubukan namin ni misis ‘tong paragliding, ganun pala talaga ang feeling! Eksakto sa panaginip mo,” he said, expressing his hope of giving it another shot one day. “Grabe yung literal na high!”
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Japan has a number of paragliding destinations sure to leave tourists in awe of its skies, mountains, and oceans. Now that the much-loved country has reopened its borders to independent foreign tourists after a two-year pause due to the pandemic, you can now push through with your travel plans there and see it again in all its glory.
If paragliding is part of your to-dos on your future visit, let this quick roundup of must-see spots be your guide to having the ultimate paragliding experience in Japan.
Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium
Michael V had the time of his life at the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium—the same venue where the 1998 Winter Olympic Games were held. Situated at the Happo-One Ski Resort, this location offers the perfect way to bask in the beauty of Hakuba, including a picturesque view of the Japanese alps.
To be eligible for paragliding, you must weigh between 30 and 90 kilograms. Make sure to be in your most comfortable outfit (long sleeves and sports shoes are recommended). Price costs approximately ¥14,000 (almost P6,000) per head, covering flight, training, insurance, and a gondola ride, which will bring you up to 1,400 meters above sea level.
Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium is located at Hokujo, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano. It's open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. See to it that you check in at least 15 minutes before your reserved time slot. You may book a session via Klook here.
If you’re captivated by the greens, the Matsushima Paragliding Experience is for you. For ¥13,000 (over P5,000), including experience and insurance fees, you can soar over the landscape of Matsushima Bay, known for having one of Japan’s three most scenic views.
Aside from over 200 small islands surrounded by pine trees, you’ll also be in awe of the Zao Mountain Range, Mount Kurikoma, the Oshika Peninsula, the skies, and the seas. According to Sendai Experience, this paragliding experience uses an engine, which means “you can enjoy a full 10 minutes flying around the bay” regardless of the wind conditions.
Matsushima Bay is located at Matsushima-machi, Miyahi-gun, Miyagi. The paragliding session is being offered by Sendai Experience daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You may make a reservation here.
Want to see the highest mountain in Japan up close? The Asagiri Kogen Paragliding School is welcoming both beginners and advanced paragliders who would love to get a good look at Mt. Fuji along with the equally beautiful Asagiri Plateau, among other breathtaking views.
It’s offering short flights for ¥8,000 (over P3,000) as well as tandem flights where a pilot controls the glider for ¥10,000 (almost P4,000) on weekdays and ¥12,000 (almost P5,000) on weekends. If you want to get the best of both worlds, you may enjoy both short and tandem flights for ¥16,000 (over P6,000) on weekdays and ¥18,000 (over P7,000) during weekends and holidays.
Explore Shizuoka noted that it's not guaranteed that Mount Fuji will always be visible during your paragliding experience. To increase your chances of seeing the mountain in its full glory, it's highly recommended that you visit during late autumn or winter months.
The Asagiri Kogen Paragliding School is located at Nehara 282-1, Fujinomiya-shi, Shizuoka. It’s open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. To book, fill out this application inquiry form on its official website.
Tottori Sand Dunes
How about a glimpse of the most famous tourist destination at Tottori—the Tottori Sand Dunes? When sand from the Sendaigawa River got washed out thousands of years ago, the eye-catching sand dunes were formed. “Today, the movement of the tides and the coastal winds continuously shape the sand dunes and provide an ever-changing landscape,” according to Japan Guide.
In this paragliding experience, you will need you to trek 50 meters up the dunes before the ride. There’s no need to worry, though, as an experienced instructor will be there to help you carry the gear all the way up.
A half-day course costs ¥8,000 (over P3,000), while a tandem course with an expert costs ¥12,500 (almost P5,000). Both charges include the insurance fee, equipment rental fee, and tax. With the former, you can fly up to three times per session. With the latter, which is recommended for those who are scared of flying, an instructor will take care of the flight and landing to give you the ultimate experience.
The Tottori Sand Dunes Paraglider School Sakyu Honpo is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It’s located at Yuyama, Fukube-cho, Tottori-shi, Tottori. You may book a paragliding experience here.
The Tokachi Futo Paraglider Base is also a good spot for this thrilling outdoor activity, where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and the Tokachi Plain. According to Japan Travel, Tokachi is “among the most fertile agricultural areas of Hokkaido, so expect sweeping pastoral views from the skies.”
Starting at ¥9,000 (almost P4,000), paragliding experiences include a solo flight of up to 30 meters after two hours of teaching as well as a tandem experience with a pilot. Lessons are being held on a gentle slope.
The Tokachi Futo Paraglider Base is located at Shimoshihoro, Otofuke, Kato District, Hokkaido. From November to March, tandem flying is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. You may make a reservation here.