Outdoor Survival Games
Cosplay for you sporty chaps.
On a sunny day, you creep through the bamboo stalks, as insects’ buzz pierces the silence. Suddenly, a figure covered in leaves pops out of a bush and fires in your direction. Welcome to outdoor “survival games,” yet another one of Japan’s strange subcultures that’s totally worth exploring.
Survival games (called air-soft in other countries) is a sport where two teams of players fight with toy guns that shoot plastic BBs.
The game can be best explained as an elaborate version of “capture the flag,” but players in Japan seem to take it pretty seriously. Especially in an outdoor field, the games can feel more authentic. And the cosplay can get quite real with SWAT officer gear, bulletproof vests and even guns resembling M4 assault rifles and Tommy guns.
Japan has a lot of survival game venues, including indoor and outdoor fields all over the country. Yet not many travelers know about the ones outside Tokyo, as many of the outdoor fields can be difficult to get to. Still, if you have some Japanese skill or have done air-soft before and are looking for a more intense survival game experience, outdoor fields are the way to go.
For those looking for a more beginner-friendly experience check out some indoor venues.
How To Play
You can either rent the field (called kashikiri in Japanese) or participate in the “free” games (called teireikai in Japanese).
The cost of renting a field depends on the number of players, and how much of the field you want to rent. If you rent the field, only your group will play. The easy option, and the best for small groups, is to join the free games, which allow you to be put on a team with other people.
Outdoor fields are much larger (you could easily fit a soccer field inside) and there is a greater variety of obstacles and scenery. One easily accessible spot is SEALs in Chiba City, which can be accessed from Tokyo by train. The SEALs venue is separated into distinct parts with heavy jungle, light jungle and light urban areas that lead you from crawling through bushes to hiding behind bamboo thickets.
Whatever venue you choose, survival games can make for a great change of pace from the standard temple sightseeing tour.
Check out more sports tourism in Japan.