The writer of this article
I’ve been climbing for about 10 years both indoors and outdoors.
I used to work at a bouldering gym in Tokyo. I’ve been to several countries, sometimes have lived there for work, and experienced a lot of different climbs.
Hope this article helps!
What is bouldering?
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing. Unlike other climbing styles, bouldering is protected by a thick pad on the floor, not by ropes and harnesses. Since there are no ropes to protect you from hitting the ground, the bouldering walls are only about 3 ~ 5 meters.
It is necessary to have rock climbing shoes for bouldering. Rock climbing shoes are made just for climbing. They have very sticky rubber on the bottom and are a lot tighter and more narrow than regular sneakers so that you can step on tiny rocks. It is also common to use chalk when your hands get slippery from sweat. Indoor bouldering gyms offer routes made with colorful artificial rocks.
Basic info about bouldering gyms in Japan
It is quite easy to start rock climbing in Tokyo. All you need are clothes that are easy to move in. Other equipments like rental shoes and chalk are available at the gyms. Each bouldering gym has different pricing, operation hours, and rules. In this section, I will give you some basic information about bouldering gyms in Japan.
How much does it cost?
At each bouldering gym, it is required that you register for a membership when you use the facilities for the first time. The registration fee itself costs about ￥1500~2000. You might think it’s a little bit pricey, but remember, it is only a one-time fee. A day pass costs around ￥2,000 and rentals are about ￥200. A monthly membership costs around ￥10,000.
Most of the bouldering gyms are open around 12 pm ~ 11 pm.
What can you do at a bouldering gym?
In my experience, each bouldering gym has the same facilities. This includes a dressing room, bathroom, and some areas where you can rest. Please note that most of the bouldering gyms in Tokyo do not have shower rooms, so if you prefer to take a shower right after bouldering, you should check the specific information about the bouldering gym you are planning on visiting.
Lectures and rules
If it is your first time visiting a bouldering gym, you will be given guidance regarding where things are in the gym and what the rules are. The rules are about safety and how to climb a route. *They vary depending on the bouldering gym.
〇Rules for safety
- Do not climb or stand under the wall while somebody is on it
- Always land on your feet
- Take turns climbing the wall
The first one is easy to understand. It is dangerous to be on the wall or under it if someone is climbing because when the person on the wall falls, you and the other person could get injured. The second rule might be difficult to follow if you push yourself too hard. You don’t want to lose your balance and fall from a bad angle. It is possible to get hurt from bad landings. Please remember that even though there is a thick pad to protect you, bouldering is still dangerous. The last one is not a rule, but sharing the wall is good manners.
〇How to climb a route
You will receive guidance on how to climb a route when you visit a bouldering gym for the first time, most likely in Japanese. If you don’t speak Japanese, then these basic rules might help you.
- Grab the starting rock with both of your hands
- Climb up only using rocks on the route you are climbing
- Grab the goal with your both hands
- Climb down the wall
These are the basics, but they may differ depending on the gym. A route can be identified by the color of the rocks or tape. Bouldering is easier when you use your feet more than your arms, like climbing up a ladder.
The best bouldering gyms for beginners in Japan
The gyms included in this article were chosen based on size, location, and quality. Spacious bouldering gyms offer a lot more routes than smaller ones. If you are just starting out, you should stick to the easy routes. Bigger bouldering gyms have a lot of easy routes so that you can climb a new route all the time. Accessibility is also important; if a gym is close to a major station, there is no reason not to go. Not only the routes, but other components like how clean the gym is, and what kind of services the gym features are important as well.
- Size: 1000㎡
- Pricing: Registration fee￥2000, day pass￥2000
- Operation Hours: Weekdays 12 pm ~11 pm, weekends and holidays 10 am ~ 10 pm
- Location: 3F Ogikubo Toa Kaikan, 1-10-12, Kamiogi, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
This bouldering gym is located right next to Ogikubo station, which is one train away from major stations in Tokyo such as Shinjuku station and Tokyo station. It has only one floor but is one of the biggest gyms in Tokyo. Thanks to the size, it can accommodate up to 300 people. The walls are about 4~5 meters high. The most interesting aspect is that each wall has a theme. There is a competition wall in the front, as well as walls that are inspired by authentic rocks around the world. I am sure that you will be psyched by the shapes and colors of the walls--it’s nothing like anything you will ever see in other gyms. Their shop has a lot of gear for other types of climbing. An English version of their website is available.
In my experience, B-Pump Ogikubo is the best gym I have tried so far. The location is perfect; it is only a 30-second walk from Ogikubo station. The size is great too, but the best thing about this gym is its quality. The routes are well designed for both pros and beginners. Other gyms only use small, old rocks to make routes for beginners, but here, because the company that owns the gym is a distributor for climbing, a lot of new and different shapes of routes are waiting for you. The shop has a lot of useful items too.
Apex Shinjuku Nishiguchi
- Size: 300㎡
- Pricing: Registration fee ￥1650, day pass ￥1650 on weekdays,￥2200 on weekends
- Operation Hours: Weekdays 10 am ~11 pm, weekends and holidays 10 am ~ 10 pm
- Location: 7-3-1 Nishishinjuku Shinjuku City, Tokyo
Apex Shinjuku Nishiguchi is located in Nishi-Shinjuku. It takes 5 minutes to get there from Shinjuku station on foot. The gym is not very big compared to B-pump Ogikubo, but still acceptable. It offers basic wooden walls which are about 4 meters high.
Personally, I have only been there once, but it was certainly suitable for beginners and intermediate climbers. It seemed that half of the customers were beginners. The best thing about this gym is the location. It is just a few minutes walk away from Shinjuku Station. There are a bunch of trains that run through this mega station. The quality of the routes is not like B-Pump Ogikubo, because the holds (artificial rocks) are a bit smaller and older. However, the routes are still great. Another good thing about this gym is that the walls are mostly vertical or slightly steep, a good place to start if you are a beginner. It opens at 10 am every day, also good for early birds.
. 【VERSUS Round2】 お待たせ致しました❗️ APEX vs SHARE Round2セット終了しました❗️ 前回同様見た目良し！内容良し！全部良し！な感じの仕上がりとなっています😎 フリクションのある内に登っちゃいましょう💪 ------------------------------------------------- VERSUSの投票方法が変わりました❗️ そして❗️投票に参加していただいた方の中から抽選でAPEX共通月パス、回数券、VERSUSオリジナルTシャツをプレゼント🎁 投票方法 ・スタートに1-10の番号が振ってある課題が対象です。 ・投票する課題の動画にハッシュタグ(#VERSUSround2 )を付けてインスタに投稿するだけ❗️ ※1投稿に複数動画を投稿しないで下さい。 ※同一人物による複数の投票はカウントされません。 是非、投票をお願いします🙏 Round3もお楽しみに❗️ #APEX新宿 #ボルダリングジムSHARE #climbing#bouldering#apexclimbinggym#shinjuku #クライミング#ボルダリング#APEXクライミングジム #クライミングジム#ボルダリングジム#新宿#西新宿 #村井隆一#山内誠 @ryu____1 @makoto.yamauchi @bouldering_gym_share
- Pricing: Registration fee￥2000, day pass￥2000
- Operation Hours: Weekdays 12pm ~11pm, Saturday and holidays 11am ~ 10pm, Sunday 10am ~ 9pm
- Location: 1-1-8, Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Another B-pump climbing gym is located near Akihabara and Okachimachi station. If you walk for a few minutes, you will see a huge B-pump building just for bouldering. It consists of 3 stories, each floor with walls for climbing and even more on the rooftop. It is the first or second biggest bouldering gym in Japan. The walls there are about 3 ~ 4 meters high. The 3rd floor is slightly darker and has unique lighting. Their shop has a lot of goods for climbing. There is also an English version of the website available.
In my experience, B-Pump Tokyo is a good place to start bouldering for beginners. The location is convenient and the gym offers tons of routes including easy ones, which is why the customers are mostly beginners. The walls are a little bit older than B-pump Ogikubo, but the overall atmosphere is the same and it is a good gym if you want to climb with other beginners. Although this gym seems perfect, there is one negative aspect. The gym is very popular, so the place is always packed with beginners. If you’re planning on going, then I suggest visiting right after it opens on weekdays.
先日から利用が開始となった、 B-pump TOKYO✖︎ Vertical-life B-pump TOKYOのすべての課題を掲載！トポとして活用いただけます！ また、完登記録をつけてランキング上位を目指しましょう👍 インストールは無料！ インストールしたら『B-Pump Tokyo』で検索！ @vertical.life.climbing @bpumptokyo @pump2climbing #bpumptokyo#pump#bouldering#climbing#climbingwall#routesetting #routes#hold #akihabara#tokyo#bpump東京#秋パン#パンプ#ボルダリング#クライミング#クライミングウォール#ルートセット#ホールド#秋葉原#神田明神#東京#verticallife
Base Camp Tokyo
- Size: Unknown
- Pricing: Registration fee ￥1100, day pass ￥2200
- Operation Hours: Weekdays 12:30pm ~10:30pm, weekends 10am ~ 9pm
- Location: 3-10-15 Mukaihara Itabashi City, Tokyo
This gym is located near Kotakemukaihara station, a small station that is only accessible with one subway line. After exiting the station, it is just a 2-minute walk. Its basic wooden walls are 3 ~ 4 meters high. There is only one story for bouldering, but a lot of spaces for taking a break are available. I do not know the specific size of the gym, but it is definitely bigger than 250㎡.
In my experience, Base Camp Tokyo looks like a small version of B-pump Ogikubo. It is owned by a company that distributes artificial rocks for indoor climbing, so the rocks are newer and bigger than other bouldering gyms in Tokyo. Since it opened only a few months ago, the interior is very clean. When I went, it seemed that most customers were intermediate or higher. You may not find as many easy routes compared to the three gyms listed above.
Climbing Gym T-wall Shimbashi
- Size: 230 ㎡
- Pricing: Registration fee ￥550, day pass ￥2200
- Operation Hours: Weekdays 2pm ~11pm, Saturday 12am ~ 10pm, Sunday and holidays 10am ~ 8pm
- Location: SVAX Nishishimbashi Bldg.B1, 2-39-3 Nishi-Shimbashi Minato City, Tokyo
Climbing Gym T-wall Shimbashi is located around Shimbashi Station. It takes 8 minutes to get there, a little longer than the other gyms listed, but it is hard to come across bouldering gyms of this size and quality in this area. Its basic wooden walls welcome you with 4-meter-high routes. The difference between Climbing Gym T-wall Shimbashi and the other recommended bouldering gyms is the size of the artificial rocks. They are smaller and of an older style, but still good to use when learning how to move your body.
To be honest, I have not yet visited this gym. I recommend visiting because of the good reviews I hear about it. It has good reviews thanks to the location, but the size is the smallest one on this list. The quality of the routes are good, but not great compared to the others. However, there are no good climbing gyms around the area. If you are somewhere close to Shimbashi station, why not give it a try?