It could be higher, but we’ll let that slide.

Like many, I’m a guy who enjoys a good slide from time to time. However, this hobby often results in me getting yelled at by angry parents in playgrounds because little Taiga and Kurumi don’t have enough sense to stay clear of the bottom.

And so, I always wished there was somewhere where a person of my age and wisdom can comfortably giggle at the act of falling through a tube really fast. Now, it appears my prayers have been answered and constructed in the Osaka-iest place on Earth…

▼ Behold! Shinsekai! (Please disregard the dilapidated haunted building being demolished on the right)

Shinsekai is a bizarrely fun place that somehow manages to blur the very thick line between childlike innocence and seedy gangsterism. Located on the edge of both slums and state-of-the-art commercial facilities, it acts as a kind of cultural whirlpool where everything just kind of swirls together and gets wrapped up in an urban planning design that’s so touristy it’s not even touristy any more.

The mascot of the area is Billiken, an American-made goblin who still exists there in places like Saint Louis University but enjoys a great deal of notoriety in Osaka to this day. It was created by Florence Pretz as “The God of Things the Way they Ought to Be”, or in other words: the living embodiment of “Hey dude, it’s all good.”

The centerpiece of this area is Tsutenkaku, a tower built in 1956 to replace the one destroyed during WWII. The original, built in 1912, resembled the Eiffel Tower on top of the Arc de Triomphe, whereas this new design was an original made by Tachu Naito, who also crafted Tokyo Tower.

However, what even the genius of Naito failed to envision, was a big old fun slide running down the side. Luckily, that design flaw has now been rectified with the Tower Slider.

Sadly, this slide doesn’t run down the entire tower, but fingers are crossed they make some upgrades in the future. However, going from the observation deck down into the basement level is still a good 26-meter (85-foot) vertical drop along a 60-meter (197-foot) long coiled slide.

The Tower Slider can be accessed from under the tower via the Waku Waku Land entrance. The “Umaibo Shop” on the window is just an ad for a different store, and I’ll get to that a little later.

From there, you need to purchase a ticket. Adults cost 1,000 yen (US$7.69) and kids from elementary school and up are only 500 yen, and unfortunately telling them you’re very immature for your age doesn’t work towards any discounts. However, much to my surprise, I was also gifted a box of Tsutenkaku Mo Curry.

▼ In the spirit of Billiken, the back of the box says you don’t even need to heat it up if you don’t want to bother. It’s all good, man.

It was a surprisingly tightly run ship for what’s essentially just a big slide. Staff were everywhere guiding me along the way. Lockers were available for free to store my bags and an elevator took me up to the observation deck.

▼ The entrance is at the bottom of the slide

From there it was another brief stair climb.

Since it was just a slide, the line moved pretty quickly. Everyone gets fitted with a helmet and equipped with a mat to slide on. The mats have pockets at the bottom to tuck your feet in, which unfortunately means you can’t go down this slide Superman-style.

▼ I really wanted to go Superman-style…

While waiting, it’s possible to get a look at just how high up you are. You can also hear the intermittent screams of those going before you.

When my turn arrived, the staff laid out my mat and helped me climb on. Cameras were set up to make sure the previous slider had gotten off and the coast was clear. Then, they activate a small camera and ask you to wave to it, and send you down the chute.

Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take video while riding the slide, but at the bottom they offer a free souvenir video that you can download to your phone using their Wi-Fi. It’s probably for the best, because if they let everyone take their phones in there, you know people are going to be dropping them left and right and causing delays.

However, the video is really just a shot of you at the top and the bottom of the slide with some stock footage in between.

▼ I actually did a little more than just a peace sign for the camera, but they cropped it out. Not impressed.

The ride itself took about 10 seconds, which is pretty long for a slide when you think about it. In the first section there’s windows along the top so you can look up at the rest of the tower, and the lower half is all decked out in flashing lights. It’s a lot like a waterslide but without the water, and all in all a good solid slide. In fact, it’s even earthquake-proof should one happen to strike during that 10-second window you’re inside it.

By the way, afterward of course I did go to that Umaibo Shop advertised on the entrance of Waku Waku Land, and of course it had a Billiken shrine dedicated to the Umaibo mascot which accepts offerings of coins in exchange for Umaibo blessings.

▼ No one is sure why the Umaibo mascot looks almost exactly like Doraemon and yet has had no complaints about it

Overall, I was satisfied with Tower Slide, but left thinking that if they’d extend it to the top of the tower, then they’d really have something. Then again, maybe things are the way they ought to be, and at least I had my curry to look forward to at home. I imagine this is a limited-time gift though, so be sure to check out the Tower Slider soon if possible to get some yourself.

Slide information
Tower Slider / タワースライダー
Osaka-shi, Naniwa-ku, Ebisuhigashi 1-18-6
Hours: 10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Admission: 1,000 yen (adults), 500 yen (elementary, junior high students)

Photos ©SoraNews24
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