Playgrounds for the People

I don't know if this is true for all of Japan, but our city must have a truly low budget for children's parks and playgrounds. They aren't dirty, or necessarily dangerous, but they all seem to have a certain air of decrepitude and neglect. Perhaps the idea was that neighborhoods were supposed to take on the responsibility of maintaining these spaces after they were built, but with aging populations and lives that are becoming increasingly less community centric the playgrounds are being forgotten.

The good news is that they were built, however many decades ago, to last and they certainly have. What I have seen all over our city are extremely creative, whimsically designed play structures, slides, and swings with crumbling concrete and paint so faded that you aren't sure what colour it was originally. They are usually contained within a compound of dirt or grass in dire need of attention. Dustin and I joke about the steel and concrete, functional feel of the playgrounds and wonder if Japan purposefully designed them after ones in Soviet Russia. Hey, the kids seem to love them though and that is all that really matters.

Here is a playground near downtown that the kids and I stopped at for a bit. It was clean and the gravel seemed freshly raked, but everything was in dire need of a little friendliness and creativity.

This lovely park is located between the shadowy concrete columns that hold up the shinkansen track. It is a nice place to bring the kids when it is just too hot to stay out in the sun for long. The ground is covered with a layer of fine, silty, dark dust that plasters itself to your skin and clothes and leaves you filthy. A heartless pirate swing? Why not!  

The metal tube slide seems to be a favourite in these playgrounds. They somehow create so much friction that you slowly squeak your way to the bottom. This is great for taking pictures of your kid, but not so fun if you are really wanting to slide.

Of all the old, run down parks we have visited this is by far my favourite. It has on otherworldly feel and Theo loves all the places to climb and tunnels to run in. I am not sure why there are two concrete tigers but they also seem to be a hit. It must have been amazing when it was first made, bright, shiny, and strange. I would absolutely love to have the time and money to patch and repaint this play structure. Maybe one day, once we find out how these things are organized and if we are still living in this neighbourhood, Dustin and I will take this on as a community service project. 

1 comment:

Kristiann said...

Maybe the slides just need a few runs down with waxed paper?