Bouldering is rock climbing that doesn’t require equipment and therefore is stripped down to the bare essentials. There are a number of indoor centers offering the use of specially created walls to those who want to engage in the sport. We test out Rhino and Bird in Nishi-Nippori.

How do I boulder?

It’s fairly straightforward – all you need is climbing shoes (provided by Rhino and Bird) and you’re ready to go! The walls have a series of color and number coded routes which you should follow in order to ascend to the top. The challenge is to climb these short routes of varying difficultly using a mix of balance, strategy and quite a bit of strength (some parts have you hanging at a 90 degree angle). There is no harness, making the experience freer and more natural, as if you were out on the mountains.

Wait, no harness – is it safe?

The walls are more of a tricky design rather than a frightful height, and so you are not really too far up off the ground. The floors are covered with safety mats so falling is painless. Bouldering is more about navigating the climb rather than getting tied up in the equipment.

What is the venue like?

The venue is two floors of walls. The ground floor contains the biggest and most difficult walls, and upstairs there is a smaller set for beginners. We found this the best place to warm up before heading downstairs to scale the tough walls.

What do I need to bring?

Just some gym clothes – a T shirt, shorts and socks will do. Rhino and Bird provide shoes and chalk for your hands to help with grip. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water – you’ll be working up quite a sweat.


What are the benefits?

There are many benefits of bouldering. First and foremost it’s about strength. It is a fantastic physical workout, which uses muscles in not only your arms, but also your legs, glutes, back and core. After just an hour of climbing, we were definitely feeling the pain and there’s no doubt that this is a huge physical workout. The best thing is, with all the strategic thinking you barely notice that you’re exercising!

The sport is probably the most social way to climb, and even if you’re climbing alone you’ll find that others will join forces to help you tackle the trickier sections of the wall. From beginners to advanced climbers, bouldering is a way to work out both body and mind along with a group of helpful individuals.

How much does it cost?

A one-time registration fee costs ¥1,500, and sessions are between ¥1,500-¥2,000 plus tax depending on day and time.

For more info about Rhino and Bird, visit our Concierge listing