Wow. That rollercoaster has to be the best in the whole world. At least the best in the world that I’ve been on. Absolutely incredible.
Not only is it incredible high, incredibly fast, and incredibly thrilling, it is also in an incredible location, standing as it does in the very heart of Tokyo. The view just before sunset yesterday was stunning. Jon and I had a few moments at the top of the first long haul up to look around and say “wow” repeatedly. It really was stunning.
This is the rollercoaster, you may recall, that I visited in March 2003, before the amusement park that it is situated in opened for business. I said at the time “my heart was certainly beating fast – and I was only looking at it!” – so you can imagine how I felt yesterday, actually riding the thing.
Mind you, Jon and I didn’t sit in any old seat, oh no, we were positioned right at the very front. Getting there was no easy matter. It required planning, and the subtle twisting of two young girls’ minds. It all started at the back of the queue, you know, the place beside the sign that reads “Persons who, based on their shape, cannot fasten their safety belts, are not allowed to ride”
In front of us in the queue were two young girls, perhaps age 10 and what seemed like age 4 – she had her lines well rehearsed though when asked by the attendant how old she was! During the 30 minute wait they couldn’t help but overhear our gaijin Japanese speak, and frequently turned around to giggle at something or other that we’d said. This broke the ice between us – we were all children now, dead excited about the ride in store for us.
Time ticked by. The queue shortened, until finally we figured our turn had come, and oh bollox, it looked like we’d be right at the back of the ride! But no! The attendent closed the gate, leaving us in positions 3 and 4 for the next ride. The second row! So close and yet so far!
It was at this point that the two litle girls in front of us leaned forward to glimpse up at the train now being hauled up into the clouds. “Ah, it’s a bit high!” one said to the other. Jon and I looked at one another – could this be our golden chance to steal the prize seats at the very front? It was so funny – should we agree, should we say, “Yes, yes, it is VERY high isn’t it? Looks positively scary!” What if the other people in the queue heard us, what would they think of think of those means, selfish gaijin?
We now made full use of the relationship that we had carefully cultivated over the previous half-hour, sympathising with the girls, whilst trying to ignore the voices in our heads shouting “Let us go in front! You want us to go in front don’t you?!! You really do!!”
The second rollercoaster train had now arrived, it’s shaken occupents struggling from their seats. Time was running out. We’d have to board in a second.
The situation was desperate, and I finally decided to kindly offer to take the front seats, sod those behind us and the reputation of foreigners as selfish bastards who make little kids take second place so they can enjoy pole position!
Just as I opened my mouth the 10-year-old said, in very polite Japanese, “Would you be so kind as to swap seats with us?”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
The final twist in the tale comes after the ride when we are admiring the size of our screaming mouths on the screens above the ‘Thunder Dolphin Hi-Tec Photo Counter’. As well as appearing in our own photo, being quite tall we also appear in the photo of the two little girls behind us, whose faces are almost completely obliterated by our heads.