Jon Fain

Rock Craft

Tochigi's famed climbing gym

Jon Fain
JapanTravel Guest   - 3 min read

In Oyama, Tochigi prefecture’s second largest city, a rock climbing gym sure to meet the needs of thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts alike lies a quick cab ride from the Oyama JR Station. This famous climbing gym has hosted both Yuji Hirayama and Chris Sharma, two men sitting atop the list of the world’s greatest climbers. Rock Craft will redefine your image of what a rock climbing gym is, offering a taste of adventure that even those with acrophobia can manage.

Rock Craft is not just a bouldering gym. It offers four roughly thirty foot high walls, three for top roping (all of which can also be lead) and one exclusively for lead climbing. Top roping is a style of climbing that involves ropes connected to fixed anchors at the top of the climb, while lead climbing is a more advanced style of climbing that involves placing your own protection on a route and then clipping your rope into that protection as you go along. This gym also boasts one of Japan's four treadwalls, a climbing wall on a vertical conveyor belt. If you are interested in top roping but don’t have a partner or instructor on hand to belay you, Rock Craft has three auto belay devices set up. This means you can attach one to your harness and climb away! These devices will gently lower you after your climb or catch you if you slip on a difficult route. If you feel unsure on how to use any of the equipment, make sure to ask one of the friendly staff members for help.

But if bouldering is your thing, or you just want to keep it closer to the ground, this gym has two floors of spectacularly set bouldering walls. The bottom floor has a challenging cave, a wall that is constructed exactly as it sounds, with routes that allow you to climb upside down from one end of the gym to the beginnings of an overhanging lead climbing wall. On the second floor you’ll find shorter bouldering walls that are less overhung but still offer a stimulating workout.

The sport of climbing allows you to solve a puzzle with your entire body, offering both mental and physical exercise. While each climbing gym displays its own version of a puzzle, Rock Craft exhibits virtuosic genius in their superior route setting. Rock Craft has the feel and reputation of a climber’s gym, but accommodates all who are willing to give the exhilarating sport a go.

You can arrange a two hour beginner's course for 3150 yen or buy a visitors all day pass for 2160 yen. Rock Craft offers gear rental. If planning to visit the gym with a large party, be sure to give them a call ahead of time to book a reservation so that they can prepare the necessary staff for your experience.

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Jon Fain is currently an English Teacher In Ashikaga, Japan. He was born and raised in Connecticut and obtained a degree in Psychology at Keene in New Hampshire. Rock climbing, mountain biking, writing, reading, and travelling are among his favorite activities. He is referred to in certain "intil...