In August I had the opportunity to use an event credit I had with a local adventure club, so I decided to use it towards skydiving.
It has been on my bucket list since I was in middle school, and even though I’m terrified of heights I thought I should do it if I had the chance.
The problem is that my husband exceeds the height and weight limit of skydiving companies here in Japan, so I had to go it alone.
Even though I really wanted him to be there I thought it would be no big deal to go by myself. We had just climbed to the top of Mount Fuji 2 weeks before, so I was sure this would be easy.
Except, it wasn’t. The whole language barrier thing kind of poses a big problem when you’re about to jump out of a plane at about 4,000 meters.
The day started by all of the club members arriving at Fujioka station early in the morning. This is a very small station and the closest store is about a 10 minute walk. It was so early that the store wasn’t open yet, so I started walking around foraging for breakfast.
Luckily I was able to meet and talk with an older couple who owned a hardware store. My Japanese speaking ability is intermediate, but I was able to ask them if they had any snacks for sale.
Instead they gave me a bag of pastries and snacks and wouldn’t let me pay them. I told them I was skydiving that morning and they wished me good luck and sent me on my way.
I ran back to the station so I could be sure to catch the shuttle to the jump site and made it just in time.
So, we arrive to the site and we get the safety briefing in English. No problem. All of that was very clear.
What wasn’t clear is what would happen once inside the plane and how it would happen. You know, the logistics of who would go first and whatnot.
They were doing back to back jumps that day, so while everyone else was geared up and in the plane I was standing out waiting on my teacher to parachute down, unhook from the last jumper, and hook on to me.
By the time my teacher hit the ground he literally ran to me, strapped my to his chest, and threw me on the plane- no introductions, nothing.
What I didn’t realize (and nobody told me) was that since I was the last person on the plane I would be first one off.
So, we’re up in the air. It’s a hot summer day. We’re all sweating and terrified. I’m sitting on a stranger’s lap and he’s trying to point out mountains and such as we rise higher and higher in this little tin can of a plane.
About this time I’m thinking “hm, maybe I can still change my mind?” but at that same time my teacher threw the plane door open.
What happened next was somehow both simultaneously instant and in slow-mo. The door flew open. I’m thinking “oh, that’s a nice view” but then I realize he’s PICKING ME UP. I guess I’m supposed to be moving by myself at this point but I’m frozen and confused since I didn’t know I was going first.
He sits me on the edge of the plane. I still don’t know what’s happening. Then he throws us out the door.
My stomach goes up into my lungs. Then I realize I’m seeing the sky. I shouldn’t be seeing the sky. For several days after I thought we were having trouble in the air, but now I think he was just trying to have fun with me. I was not having fun.
So, after what felt like 5 minutes of facing the sun he jerks my pack and throws me so that I’m under him, facing the ground.
By this point I’m already confused about what just happened, it’s hot and muggy, and I’m free falling from 4,000 meters. There really is nothing like feeling the wind hitting you was you plummet towards the earth.
When our neon-green chute caught air we both jerked up and thought I was going to vomit. But luckily that feeling didn’t last long.
The view parachuting down was nice. However, my teacher thought it would be fun to do some kind of turning left-to-right action, which I had to ask him nicely not to do because I already felt quite sick.
I was so thankful to hit the ground. Everyone else on the trip seemed to have a blast, and I’m glad they did. I, on the other hand, had a headache for the rest of the 1.5 hour train ride home and felt shaky for the rest of the day…but I did it!
I can attest that the sights, sounds, and feelings were certainly unique and something I will always remember, but once was enough for me.
What was the craziest/most adrenaline pumping thing you’ve ever done?