Come face-to-face with the mystical dragon that resides in the Ryujin River. 

While some of us are happy to live our lives with two feet on the ground, others were born to fly through the air.

Our reporter Takuya Inaba belongs in that latter camp, as he recently booked himself in for a bungee jump after years of dreaming about it, and it turned out to be one of the most exhilarating experiences of his life, making him forget all his fears and giving him a sense of self-confidence he never knew existed.

The place where Takuya took the plunge was the Ryujin Suspension Bridge in Hitachita City, Ibaraki Prefecture. This is an impressive bridge that’s 375 metres (0.23 miles) long and 100 metres high, making it the longest pedestrian suspension bridge on the mainland. Boasting a panoramic view of the gorge below, the bridge is a popular tourist destination that’s also known as one of the best spots for viewing autumn leaves in the Kanto region.

The area is steeped in myth and legend, with Ryujin (“dragon”) referring to the dragon that’s believed to reside in the Ryujin River below.

▼ The bungee operators, Ryujin Bungy, help you come face to face with the dragon.

Takuya paid the 19,000 yen (US$133.48) fee when booking online so all he had to when he arrived at the site was join the other thrill-seekers in his same time slot. Once he’d signed the appropriate forms and listened to a quick safety briefing, he was then harnessed up to face his destiny.

▼ Takuya says the moment the harness was on, he felt there was no way to escape.

Despite running through a wide gamut of scenarios in his mind in the lead-up to this day, one thing he hadn’t thought about was how they would decide the jumping order. So when staff told them the group would decide the order by discussing it amongst themselves, the atmosphere suddenly became slightly tense, but it didn’t take long for them to work things out.

Once everyone was happy with their order, the group moved to the jumping venue, where they were greeted by high-energy electro dance music and calm and confident staff.

At this point, Takuya was too nervous to talk to anybody, and once he stepped out onto the ledge, he began to wonder if his feet would ever leave the metal. He could sense his legs and body arguing against his mind to jump, and this test of mind over body made his heart race.

He wasn’t sure if this was fear or excitement, but there was no turning back now, as the view of the gorge presented itself in front of him in all its mystical glory.

It was scary as hell, but Takuya was here to face his fears and overcome them, so he took a deep breath, and counted backwards from five.

▼ 5…4…3…2…1…Bungeeeeeeeeeee!

The second he leaped off the ledge, he felt a strange sensation, as if time had stopped. This was probably due to the incredible amount of adrenaline being secreted in his brain, which prevented all other thoughts from forming.

However, before he could soak in the afterglow of the mysterious sensation, time suddenly appeared and sped up again as his body rapidly descended to the lowest point of the dive.

▼ Fly, Takuya, fly!

This sensation of falling was the scariest part of the experience, yet also the most thrilling. He flew through the air like a spaceship at warp speed, and the scenery in his field of vision flashed by at a pace he never knew possible.

As he reached the end of his tether, he felt the effect of G forces on his body, and he hardly had a moment to catch his breath.

Though this was his lowest point in terms of the jump, it was the highest point in terms of exhilaration. It was as if he’d hurtled through the sky and survived, giving him a sense of elation and euphoria.

▼ Takuya, blinking hard to permanently imprint this moment in his memory.

Once he was back on the passage under the bridge, he collected his belongings and checked the photos that were taken of his jump. Commemorative photos could be purchased for 4,000 yen and Takuya could see many people purchasing theirs, to help the memory last a lifetime.

▼ Takuya also purchased his photos, which included this one of him pre-jump.

After reflecting on his bungee experience, Takuya says the role that staff played in making everything run smoothly in such a calm and efficient manner really impressed him. As for the jump itself, Takuya was surprised at the gamut of emotions he felt in such a short amount of time, starting with extreme fear in the seconds right after the jump through to exhilaration at the very end.

In Takuya’s personal opinion, bungee jumping gives you a sense of pleasure and accomplishment that you just can’t get anywhere else. Once he was back on firm soil, he felt clean and refreshed inside, as if the exhilaration of bungee jumping had erased all his worries and fears.

▼ For Takuya, bungee jumping was like a mental detox.

Now that he’s flown through the air, who knows what else Takuya is capable of? One thing’s for sure, he’s now much bolder in his everyday decisions and more sure of himself in a way he never was before, so anything’s possible.

Bungee jumping in Japan isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s an experience that’s definitely worth it, especially when you can do it in the company of dragons.

Related: Ryujin Bungy
Photos ©SoraNews24
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