Monolith Kawagoe “Great indoor location for a half day of climbing fun for the family”
Located on the border of Kawajima Town on route 254, Monolith, Kawagoe’s newest bouldering gym, opened about 18 months ago. It has enjoyed a regular trade since the very beginning. One of the appeals of this gym for me is that the staff are very friendly and helpful. I meet the same people there over and over again and there is a sense of community among the users.
Indeed, one of the reasons I think people frequently go back to Monolith, is because the staff are so approachable and chatty. They are willing and able to give guidance to new climbers without additional charge. They provide tips and encouragement in tackling a climbing route. The climbing routes are colour co-ordinated. You can start with the simplest route and work your way up to more and more difficult ones. You use grips of the same colour for both your hands and feet to climb the wall. You can of course climb freely too, using any of the grips to monkey your way up the wall, but for a first timer it is actually easier to use the coloured system to climb safely. The easiest route can usually be conquered after one or two visits. As the routes get harder so does the time it takes to successfully clear them. Only the very advanced climbers can tackle the more awkwardly shaped walls with curves and over hangs. I am in awe of the long term climbers who can use their balance and strength to climb upside down with only the smallest grips to keep them in place.
The staff are also great for keeping an eye on and helping young climbers in their kids section. Children over 4 years old are able to climb. The kids wall is cornered off behind a low wall with flapping doors and can be seen from the adult climbing walls. So you can climb in the adult’s section while your kids are climbing in the kids section. If your kids are capable they can also use the adult walls. However, adults cannot use the kid’s walls. The walls for children aren’t too high and only sloping very slightly on one wall. They have safety mats down making it a safe place for young children to try their hand at bouldering. They offer children’s climbing courses and club, at an extra charge, on Saturdays.
The whole gym still looks brand spanking new. It is reminiscent of a warehouse from both the outside and in. All the walls are in the one space on the first floor. They don’t go particularly high; if you want high the bouldering gym near Kawagoe station is where you want to go. However, what they lack in height they make up for in complexity and diversity. They change the courses frequently to keep things interesting for regular customers. There is a changing room on the 2nd floor of the premises. There is a rest spot on the first floor with vending machines. There is also a rest area outside with ashtrays. The toilets are pristine and they have a foot bath for washing your feet.
The first time you visit you need to sign up to become a member. It is a one off payment of 2,800 yen; 1800 yen for becoming a member and 1000 yen for the membership card. After that the cost per visit depends on the length you want to climb and the day of the week. Generally speaking it is 1,600 yen for about 3 hours or 2,000 yen for a full day. Children using the kids area are charged 1000 yen for the whole day, or you can pay extra for them to use the regular climbing walls. You need to rent climbing shoes and chalk too. It costs 300 yen per visit. If you plan to use the gym regularly a month pass will probably work out cheaper for you. If you bouldering for a full day you can come and go as you please.
If you are just looking for somewhere for children to climb I recommend the free climbing wall in Kitamoto’s Children Center.
Located on route 254 near the old Toysrus which has since closed. It is about 6 minutes by car from the Kawajima Interchange of the Ken-O expressway. There is plenty of parking and it is free.
By public transport you would need to take a bus bound for “Hachimandanshi” from Kawagoe Station east exit bus terminal. The buses are quite infrequent. Please see map below URL.