HEALTH AND BEAUTY ARCHIVE:
538: Pool party
Keep your cool this summer with a visit to one of Tokyos many pools.
Metropolis shows you where to take the plunge.
536: Don't sweat it
With the hot and humid months upon us, Cristy Burne share some tips on staying
534: Swept away
Put away your broomsticksall you really need to soar through the clouds
is an armful of nylon and a good gust. Cristy Burne checks out the air up there.
532: Tee time
Cant keep it on the fairway? The yips invaded your game?
Rob Smaal finds a few experienced golf pros who can work out your kinks on the
530: Balancing act
An ancient science is helping modern men and women find peace, health and
the always elusive balance. Tama M. Lung takes a closer look at
528: Kicking on
Former K-1 Japan champion Nicholas Pettas shares his love of martial arts
at the new Spirit Gym in Nogizaka. Chris Betros goes along to watch.
526: On call
A revolutionary daily disease self-management system is making life easier
for diabetics. Chris Betros finds out about Lifewatcher.
524: Team spirit
From rugby to roller hockey, Tokyo is teeming with sports clubs for the
expat athlete. Rob Smaal shows you how to get in the game.
522: Type casting
Second-generation blood-type expert Toshitaka Nomi looks at the links between
blood classifications and health. Mick Corliss reports.
520: Like a rock
Climbing instructor Luke Kearns gets a grip on Tokyo's best indoor climbing
516: The personal touch
Madonna and Matsui aren't the only ones who need help staying fit. Hanna
Kite pumps it up with the top personal trainers in Tokyo.
514: From here to maternity
Kavitha Rao turns to a handful of Tokyo experts to track down baby basics
for nervous expat mothers-to-be.
502: Tour de Morton, part deux
Don Morton gets back on two wheels for a leisurely ride out toward Haneda
Put away your broomsticksall you really need to
soar through the clouds is an armful of nylon and a good gust.
Cristy Burne checks out the air up there.
Last year, more than 100 of the worlds top paragliding
pilots took to the air around Mount Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture,
riding magic thermals and racing the wind in a bid to secure
the Paragliding World Cup. For those new to the sport, itll
take some time to get to that level, but you dont have
to be a hotshot to get high. There are paragliding schools
all over the country, and plenty of top spots are only a couple
of hours from Tokyo. For those with more time to travel, a
bunch of schools make use of the lush landscape in Nagano
Any time is the right time to start learning: the youngest
student at the Tsukuba Paragliding School is still in junior
high; the oldest is an ex-army pilot, cruising the clouds
at 80 years of age. Such a wide range is possible because,
even though climbing to takeoff provides a good workout, from
there its all downhill. You simply lay your canopy on
the side of the hill, fill it with a soft breeze and wait
for your lift. Whooping on takeoff is optional.
By the numbers
A one-day course should have you flying at around 30 meters,
and will set you back about ¥7,000. The A-license course,
which involves basic techniques and theory, is around ¥18,000,
a price that includes training, gear rental and up to three
months to get your flight time in. Insurance is compulsory,
and kicks in at about ¥1,000 a day. If you want to skip
the hard work and taste the thrills of a tandem flight, youre
looking at around ¥8,000 including insurance and ¥3,000
for each flight after that.
The equipment includes a paragliding canopy, which is a 9x3m
slice of nylon that hoists you skyward. The entire kit weighs
in at around 15kg, including a harness and a backpack that
doubles as a sofa, curving around your rear to provide comfort
during long flights. You control your flying machine using
two barely-there brake cords. Steer into a thermal that packs
more lift than gravity can handle, and you can ride an elevator
of air until youre soaring 3,000m above the ground.
Tap into the right currents, and you can hang out for several
hoursalthough if you want to get this good, youll
need to invest in your own gear and work towards your pilots
licence, which will allow you to paraglide anywhere in the
world. The full kit will set you back around ¥400,000,
a bundle of fun that should last you about four years, depending
on how often youre flying and how well you can land.
Smiles all around
Though flying all afternoon might be the ultimate, just 30
seconds in the air is enough to have many learners hooked.
Tomoko Obokata splashed out on her own equipment after passing
her learners A-license. Shes been flying for a year,
and still gets a buzz every time. When you go up, you
get a feeling here, she says, pointing to her shoulders.
You know youre going up. At first I wasnt
really aware of the glider, I just did what I was told. Now
I can kind of feel what Im doing. Ive started
to get a sense how to fly, kind of like driving a car.
Yoko Ninagawa is also a flying fiend. Shes been paragliding
for 11 years and has yet to come down. Its an
incredible feeling of liberation. Up there youre totally
in your own space, theres no one else around. I love
soaring in thermals; its amazing to see your takeoff
spot from a kilometer up in the air.
Ninagawa bought her own gear after six months of flying, and
graduated as a pilot just 18 months later. I wouldnt
really call it a passion, she says. In the beginning
I just thought Id give it a go. The recession started
to bite, work wasnt so busy...suddenly I had some free
time on my hands. Some friends and I went to a one-day course,
and that was that. I enrolled in my A-license that day.
For the past five years, Ninagawa has been teaching weekends
at the Tsukuba Paragliding School. Any day shes not
making medical body parts at her day job, shes on the
slopes, a GI Jane in paraboots with a loudspeaker. I
dont get any holidays, she says with only slight
remorse. For me its a huge buzz when a student
flies for the first timetheir reaction, their excitement.
I remember what it was like to take off that first time.
Paragliding is also a serious sport, and a flurry of recent
accidents in Japan has driven home the point that a big part
of learning to fly lies in learning to fly with caution: being
able to judge the weather, land safely and stabilize your
glider in dodgy conditions. You have to take every flight
seriously, says Ninagawa. You have to concentrate
every time. But the rewards, which include increased
fitness, are key. Its a mobile sport, she
explains. You can carry your own kit; you dont
need a car or heaps of equipment. Youre out there breathing
fresh air, moving around.
this article with metropolis readers at http://forum.japantoday.com