Kawasaki site has held a Guiness World Record for more than 30 years.

For a city with a million and a half people, Kawasaki gets overlooked with surprising frequency. Blame it on being sandwiched between Tokyo and Yokohama, two cities with some of Japan’s most famous and popular tourism destinations, and also on the fact that Kawasaki’s almost entirely east-to-west orientation means that trains pass through the whole city in just a few minutes on the predominantly north/south train lines that service communities to the south of Tokyo.

But it’s a disservice to Kawasaki to overlook its charming sightseeing spots, such as Kawasaki Daishi temple and the Doraemon museum (though, sadly, no longer the Warehouse Kawasaki video game arcade). Why, Kawasaki even boasts an attraction that’s a world record, officially recognized by the Guiness organization!

You’ll find this world record-holder, called the Petitcalator, inside Kawasaki More’s. Kawasaki More’s is a shopping/dining/entertainment complex across the street from Kawasaki Station, of the kind you’ll often find near major rail hubs in Japan.

There’s a supermarket in the basement, and it’s a nice enough one, but that’s not where the world record is. Instead, you’ll need to head to the exit/entrance near the market on basement level 2 that connects Kawasaki More’s with Azalea, the adjacent underground shopping center that leads right into the east entrance of Kawasaki Station.

Head out the automatic doors near this bank of lockers and you’ll see it…

…the Petitcalator!

So just what is the Petitcalator? It’s a petit escalator, and, in fact, the most petit one on the planet, officially recognized by Guiness as the world’s shortest escalator.

How short is it? 83.4 centimeters (32.8 inches), so short that at no time are there ever more than five steps present.

Riding the Petitcalator takes a mere eight seconds, so it’s probably safe to say it’s the world’s shortest escalator in not only a physical sense, but a temporal one too.

So…why does the Petitcalator exist? Kawasaki More’s opened in 1989, but at that time Azalea had already been around for three years. The More’s designers wanted to create a passage connecting the two centers’ underground levels, since up on the street there’s a major road dividing them that pedestrians have to wait to cross. But the depth of the More’s and Azalea levels didn’t exactly align, so More’s planners decided to install an escalator that would make up the distance as shoppers pass from one facility to the other.

You could argue that installing an escalator for this purpose wasn’t entirely necessary, given that right next to the Petitcalator is an alternate-route staircase that only needs five steps to do the same job.

But were things get really weird is that the Petitcalator, being a short as it is, actually isn’t long enough to make up the difference in depth between the More’s and Azalea floors. It’ll only take you halfway, with the other half requiring some stair steps on your part.

As it turns out, during construction, the More’s Crew discovered that there’s a thick beam taking up the space that would have been required for the mechanisms for an escalator running for the whole depth difference. “The builders considered cancelling construction of it, but ultimately the decision was made to install a short elevator that would go partway to provide a service to customers.”

The Petitcalator obtained its world-record designation in 1991, but that doesn’t mean its been resting on its laurels since. At its initial installment, the Petitcalator was a downward escalator, and appear to have continued operating in that capacity for the next two decades-plus. However, at some point in time between 2017 and 2019, the Petitcalator was switched to an upward escalator, so now it at least lets you skip fighting against the gravity of the five-step stair-climb it saves you the trouble of.

It may not be much, but it’s still more than nothing, making the Petitcalator not only a weird, quirky bit of architecture, but also an unexpected reminder that even if you’re not doing anything big, it’s always nice to do what you can.

Escalator information
Petitcalator / プチカレーター
Located inside Kawasaki More’s / 川崎モアーズ
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Kawasaki-shi, Kawasaki-ku, Ekimaehoncho 7-7

Reference: Kawasaki More’s, City of Kawasaki
Photos ©SoraNews24
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