By: Shannon Murphy
Okinawans definitely know how to have a good time. No, I am not talking about bars and dance clubs. I am talking about their love of roller slides. I have never seen a roller slide in the United States – probably because they are too much of a liability for local government to install in public parks. However, they are not afraid to build these here, and they are available for free in public parks for all to enjoy.
I have found several, but here are my favorite three roller slides (so far… I still have plenty of island left to discover more!) Enjoy the pictures and do not miss the link to my video going down the fastest roller slide I have found!
Toguchi Beach: This is a fun, short roller slide at Toguchi Beach. You have a great view of the beach from the slide, and you can go play in the sand and water after you are done having fun on the slide. Photograph: Shannon Murphy
Manta Park: This roller slide is at Manta Park. A climb to the top of the tower provides great views of the surrounding communities and Awase Bay. The roller slide is nice, with a long, gradual slope, so you don’t build up too much speed. However, see the concrete slide on the right side? It is dangerously fast! It’s not recommended to slide down with a child on your lap, unless you want to land on top of them (speaking from personal experience!) Photograph: Shannon Murphy
Mantra Park: View from the top of the roller slide at Mantra Park. Photograph: Shannon Murphy
The first few times we went on a roller slide, I ended up with a sore bottom. Then my friend surprised me with a plastic seat that you can use on the slide. They only cost 100 Yen (approximately $1.10 US with the current exchange rate.) Not only do you go faster, but your bottom is shielded from the rollers on the slide. They are a must! Photograph by: Shannon Murphy
Tobaru Park: This is the tallest, fastest, roller slide I have found so far. It is in Tobaru Park, located in Chatan and just a couple of miles from my son’s preschool; a very convenient stop after school! If you climb to the top of the tower, you can see the ocean in the distance. It takes 103 steps to get to the start of the slide. Go up a few times and you’ve accomplished a killer workout (especially if you are carrying a 30 pound child.)
In the above link, you can see a video of my son and me going down the tallest and fastest roller slide. The second half is super fast!
Tobaru Park: View from the top of the slide at Tobaru Park looking down. Photograph: Shannon Murphy
My own common sense rules for going on these slides:
- Keep your hands, arms, and legs close to your body. We’ve heard of people sticking out an arm to slow down, only to get it caught in the “cage” surrounding the slide (which is there to keep people from falling off.)
- Wear shoes, not flip flops. Those rollers are not comfortable for bare feet or skin and if you rub against the metal on the sides, it will burn.
- Using a piece of cardboard or a plastic seat will make the ride a bit more comfortable (and faster.)
- Want to go even faster? Don’t keep your legs straight out in front of you. Fold them so that the bottoms of your shoes are flat along the rollers.
- Small children will fly on these slides. I always slide with my young son in front of me, so that I’m straddling him with my legs.