It’s called the PL Tower, but that doesn’t stand for “pretty ludicrous.”

Given how popular its pop-culture exports are, it’s really not so surprising that some people think of Japan as “the land of anime and video games.” Of course, fiction is fiction, and reality is reality, so it’s not like you should expect the urban landscape in Japan to look like the setting for the climactic battle in a fantasy adventure epic.

Unless, of course, you happen to be in Osaka Prefecture’s Tondabayashi City, that is.

Based on the PL Tower’s appearance, you might think that in order to access the structure you need to ride on the back of a flying dragon, or at least a Final Fantasy airship. But in actuality, all you have to do is take a Kintetsu Nagano Line train to Tondabayashi Station, then hop on a local bus and get off at the PL Byoin-mae bus stop. You’ll see the 180-meter (590-foot) tower directly to the south, with a road leading straight to it.

▼ Shockingly, we ran into no random monster encounters along the way.

Once again belying expectations, the PL Tower wasn’t built as the stronghold for a powerful warlock, nor to house a magical sword whose latent magical power can only be drawn out by a descendant of the legendary hero. It’s not even all that terribly old, having been erected in 1970 by Perfect Liberty, a Japanese religious organization formed in 1916.

The structure’s official name is the Daiheiwa Kinento, which translates as the “Tower for Prayers for Great Peace,” and it was built to serve as a memorial and place of prayer to the spirits of those who have lost their lives in wars, regardless of nation, era, or religion.

▼ Looking up from its base, the tower is so tall as to be disorienting.

While it dominates the Tondabayashi skyline, the facility’s atmosphere is rather laid-back. People of any faith are welcome to come in between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (except on Wednesdays, when the tower is closed). Admission is free, and no, you don’t have to defeat a mini boss or assemble a collection of sacred treasures in order to open the door.

Unfortunately, the upper areas of the PL Tower aren’t open to the general public. The second-floor prayer space, where relaxing music plays, is as far as you can go, so we stopped there and offered a quick, non-denominational prayer.

We’re not sure how much that contributed to world peace, but if nothing else, we’ll never forget our trip to Tondabayashi.

Tower information
Daiheiwa Kinento(PL Tower) / 大平和祈念塔(PL塔)
Address: Osaka-fu, Tondabayashi-shi, Tsuzuyama 285-1
Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Closed Wednesdays and during special religious services

Photos ©SoraNews24
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where there’s no way he can look at the PL Tower and not hear the theme from Record of Lodoss War playing in his head.

[ Read in Japanese ]