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Japan’s Longest Roller Slide

We’ve lived in Japan for 7 years now, and that whole time has been with little kids in tow. That means that you do life a little bit differently. The places you go are different, the things you like to do are different and when you do them (working around nap times and school schedules). But that doesn’t have to put a damper on things — you just enjoy each phase as they come and embrace the highlights. In our case, we’ve learned to love a good roller slide.

Yes, Japan loves a good roller slide, and before Japan I really didn’t even know what they were. But these slides fill the parks in Japan — they can be found in just about any serious park in varying sizes, widths and lengths. Up until last year, none had impressed us as much as the awesome slide at Showanomori Park in Chiba prefecture. We went to the park for the obstacle course, but we were blown away by the slide! Starting at the top of the hill and barreling all the way down to the bottom, this slide has us coming back for more. You can see it near the beginning of our trip to the German Village.

After riding that slide, I thought I had just done the longest roller slide in Japan, so I decided to research it. I had only scratched the surface. Japan has a number of long roller slides that we hadn’t even touched, and soon a new trip formed in my mind: one where we hit a couple of the longest roller slides ending with the largest roller slide in Japan.

The longest roller slide in Japan resides in Tabayama, and this roller slide is not for the faint of heart. Blue mats are rented at the slide, and this 247-meter behemoth requires gloves for braking! There are instructions that are similar to riding a roller-coaster, because any mistake on this slide could be bad news. If you are able to learn good form and stay together in a train with your neighbors, you can enjoy the fastest speeds on the slide. With several tries, we were able to get it down, nearly breaking the sound barrier on our last run (or so it felt).

So are you ready to see what it was like? Here’s Japan’s longest roller slide!

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Lives

A Life That Holds Together

The world may be uncertain these days, but that doesn’t mean your life has to be in a state of uncertainty. Yes, most things are out of our control, but the things that remain under our control make the difference in whether we will grow stronger during this pandemic or if we will fall apart.

We as humans like to put up a persona that we are strong, that we can do it, that we are self-made, successful people. But one of the biggest blessings in life is to realize just how vulnerable we are as human beings. We weren’t made to do it alone, we’re only fooling ourselves if we think we can. Before we can be strong, we must realize that we are weak.

Strength can come from many different places, but the best sources of strength are ones that are accessible, true and trustworthy. They can be drawn upon in the darkest of days. Building a strong family takes work and dedication, but it also serves as a strength in unstable times. Seeking God, to know Him and live by his ways is not always cool in today’s society, but a life built on a firm foundation of a good living never goes out of style. A life that’s worth living is a life that holds together.

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Lives

Japan’s Real New Year

It seemed strange at first: whenever I would talk to people about any major change in their life, it usually centered around April 1. New professionals start their jobs in April. Big moves to new homes and apartments often happen in April. The new school years begin in April. Businesses start their fiscal years in April! Yes, just about everything of significance in Japan starts in April. Yes, a new calendar year begins in January, but the real new year in Japan begins in April.

Without thinking, it doesn’t take long before you adopt this way of thinking. It’s so natural that new things would happen right alongside the spring in April. And in Japan, it does! Here’s to the new year in Japan!

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Lives

The One Week Between Years

As the pastel colors of spring come alive, something special happens in Japan. There is a break from the old year and a pause before the new year starts. This pause is Japan’s spring break — a time unique to Japan when one can truly relax, take a breath, and fill with expectations for a new season. It is typically no longer than a week long and it is the only week in the school year when the kids have absolutely no homework at all.

This year was a perfect time to spend some extended time together with friends and family. We went out to Yamanakako, had a bonfire, cooked out, went to the zoo and did lots of fun games together. There’s only one problem with Spring Break in Japan — it’s too short. Do you have any special memories of spring break? I wonder how they compare to ours!

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Lives

Sumo Wrestling

Sumo Wrestling is Japan’s national sport, and just like Japan it’s full of customs and traditions. Even though we’ve lived here almost 7 years, we know very little about it and had never seen or been to a tournament. Fortunately, Ruth’s friend Aya was willing to take us to our first tournament.

As you can see in the video, we thoroughly enjoyed the tournament and had so many questions. How does it work? How are wrestlers ranked? How does one win a tournament? How does one become a top player? How much food does a Sumo wrestler have to eat? These questions and more are all packed into our first ever video on Japan’s sport, Sumo wrestling.