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30 Meters of Peril on the World's Most Famous Abandoned Wooden Roller Coaster

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I'm perching 30 meters (100ft) above the ongoing demolition of Nara Dreamland in Nara, Japan. The sunrise a few minutes ago was spectacular; a beautiful interlude after a night of urban exploration in one of the most famous abandoned them parks in the world.

Aska's boards are slick from morning dew and sagging from 10 years of abandoned decay. Each step results in a slow, uneasy creak from my carefully placed footsteps. It feels like I'm suspended perilously above the ground rather than safely on a workman's platform. The experience wasn't this bad five years ago; a thick shroud of fog that time Jedi mind-tricked my brain into a greater sense of safety.

I look across to the other side of the coaster's mighty top curve and see Gakuranman preparing to take a few nimble shots.

I crouch down ever so slowly like I'm in a slow-motion martial arts scene and begin preparations for a short burst of photography. I bring the camera to my face, and all sense of fear melts away as I get into the zone and begin shooting.

Click. Click. Click.

I look down and think to myself, "Don't lean your elbows on the railing for stabilisation too much because it'll be a quick fucking ride to the Grim Reaper's front door!"

Click. Click. Click. Click.

A snap of the lens cap's clasps, as it closes onto the lens, indicates that I'm done shooting. I pack my bag while balancing like a tightrope artist on the narrow and flexing wooden beam under my feet. Gakuranman asks for a distant portrait but, having already snapped a couple of shots of him, I proclaim, "Dude, I'm done...I have to get off of this beast."

A slow pivot toward the descent path gives me pause; one wrong step or slip, and it's all over. last deep breath.

Let's do this thing.

The climb down is a careful choreography of planting each sidestepped foot placement is a wedge of derelict wooden supports and protruding rusty nails. My left quadricep burns from the intensity of each motion, but the decaying structure leaves me with no choice but to use my body weight for support. Every move on the creaking structure is a thank you note to myself for losing the 30kg (60lbs) a few years ago. I should've lost more!

A distant hum in the distance seems to grow louder with each second. Suddenly, I see a scooter zipping across the remnants of one of the theme park's derelict walkways.

"FUCK! It's security!", I think to myself as I look across to Gakuranman and see him flat on his back and suspended on a curve in plain sight!

I'm halfway to the bottom of the coaster and its tree-shrouded cloak of invisibility. How in the hell will we get down and hidden without being spotted?

To be continued.