Fuji-Q's Do-Dodonpa roller coaster Photo: Wikipedia/Tao1250 (edited by SoraNews24)

Fuji-Q roller coaster under investigation after riders’ bones broken

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

With Tokyo Disneyland having such an enormous presence, other theme park operators in Japan have to find their own special niche to focus on. Universal Studios, for example, has been adding plenty of domestic pop culture appeal with its video game and anime tie-ups. Puroland offers all the kawaii culture of Hello Kitty and her Sanrio friends. And Fuji-Q Highland, in Yamanashi Prefecture? That’s the place to go for roller coasters.

Oh, and broken bones too, it turns out. Fuji-Q, a popular destination for day-trippers from Tokyo, already had a reputation as a place to test your courage with its collection of Japan’s fastest, highest, and most intense thrill rides, and now a whole new fear factor has been discovered in relation to the park’s Do-Dodonpa roller coaster.

The steel roller coaster is known for its incredible launch velocity, in which passengers reach a speed of 180 kilometers per hour in 1.56 seconds. The acceleration subjects the body to 3.75 Gs, which is more than astronauts experience when blasting off in a space shuttle, and not all that much less than a fighter pilot’s jet being catapult launched from an aircraft carrier.

But while Do-Dodonpa, which opened in its current configuration in the summer of 2017, is one of Fuji-Q’s biggest draws, the force with which it pushes the body back is more than some riders can take. On Saturday, the park announced that since December of last year it had confirmed four cases of Do-Dodonpa riders, both men and women between the ages of 30 and 59, who suffered broken bones during their rides. And if you’re imagining they maybe banged a forearm into the car because they weren’t seated properly, think again, as the injuries are compression fractures in the neck and spine.

After announcing the injuries, Fuji-Q set up a hotline for others who’d experienced extended physical pain after riding Do-Dodonpa, and within two days received an additional an additional nine claims, with two people saying they’d since been diagnosed with fractured bones. “Right at the start, the car just goes ‘Whooosh!’, and it shakes your head around so much…’This might really be messing my neck up,’ I remember thinking,” recalls a 21-year-old woman who rode Do-Dodonpa in early July. She’s since experienced pain and loss of mobility in her neck, making it hard for her to see where she’s walking and causing her to miss work. After seeing Fuji-Q’s announcement about the initial four confirmed injury cases, she decided to see a doctor, and a CT scan confirmed that she has a fracture in her neck.

With roughly 210,000 visitors having ridden Do-Dodonpa since last December, even if all nine new injury claims turn out to have indeed been caused by the coaster, that’s still a very small percentage of its total ridership. On the other hand, most people would agree that one fractured spine is one too many for an amusement park ride, and so Do-Dodonpa is currently closed while it’s being inspected by prefectural and federal authorities for possible violations of Japan’s Building Standards Law.

Sources: Kyodo via Hachima Kiko, NHK News Web, Yahoo! Japan News/TBS News via Otakomu, TBS News

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@Euro Dude - read the article, it says a 21-year woman had a fracture in her neck... not some little kiddie you are babbling about...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Oh yes. Probably this happened to the extremely fragile local girls or children. Sometimes here I see people on the street that look so fragile, you think the gravity itself could break their scheletic bones.

There should be a limit for height and weight for those "dangerous attractions".

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Simply equip riders with appropriate head and neck padding similar to compression suits jet pilots and astronauts wear, for an additional charge, of course!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Can’t stand them at the best of times, but this is ridiculous! There is a difference between a ride designed to give the appearance of danger and one that inflicts actual bodily harm.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I went there in March and was able to ride it three times. It is a crazy amount of force and I'm not surprised to hear people have been injured.

The third time I was in the front seat so felt the roar of air in my face much more than before. I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if a bird or large insect flew by just as we came out of the tunnel at full speed. If it didn't kill you, it wouldn't be pretty!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I don't believe Japan has a strong track record with rollercoasters!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If the fun police (prefectural and federal authorities) get there way, they's close them all down :(

Classic Japan. 210,000 happy people, but it's going to be watered down because of a few. Sort of inverse Darwinism :(

I wouldn't consider breaking bones to be fun, but whatever gets you off, I guess.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I did it and once is enough. Also that park has extremely long waits. I prefer the wooden type roller coasters with some give.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

3.75Gs and 180km/hour speed and rapidly up and down seem too much impact to Japanese slim neck.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I question the sanity of anyone riding amusement park rides. An airline pilot is invested in a safe flight. A crackhead engineer/operator of a gut wrenching ride has only their interests in mind.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Do-Dodonpa is currently closed while it’s being inspected by prefectural and federal authorities 

Just to nitpick, Japan does not have federal authorities, its a unitary state rather than a constitutional federation. It has central government authorities.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I hate roller coasters. Took a wooden roller coaster in Beppu, Kyushu years ago. The seatbelt did nothing and malfunctioned. I was banged around and was holding on for dear life. Didn't break anything but got bruised ribs. I didn't speak Japanese at the time. The park apologized in broken English and gave me 50,000 yen. In retrospect I should have demanded much more, but at the time I was just happy to be alive.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Great ride! Don't let it stop you.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I’ve been there before…fun times”.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If the fun police (prefectural and federal authorities) get there way, they's close them all down :(

Classic Japan. 210,000 happy people, but it's going to be watered down because of a few. Sort of inverse Darwinism :(

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

I took it many times, and it's a real thrill. It was updated a few years back, so it become even faster. Really sad to see it go.

What one has to be VERY CAREFUL about (and is mentioned in looping pre-ride videos and posters while customers wait) is that one must push the head strongly in the headrest and look in front. Never drop your head or look down, as the head will weight 40-50kg for one second, the same as dropping on your neck.

I'm sure, if it's ever certified, it will be with a frontal protection, that will make things tough for smaller children.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Take a ride on Do-Dodonpa and risk being paralyzed for life, now that's some wild ride!!! That no one needs!!!

2 ( +8 / -6 )

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