Playgrounds on Okinawa are the best hands down!
By David Higgins
If there is anything Okinawa has that has North America beat, it is the incredibly elaborate children’s playgrounds in every little village, town and city.
The first time I saw a long slide that stretched along the Highway 330, I was stunned to discover this was actually a playground slide for children. It seemed so high and incredibly long. The longest slide I can remember going down as a kid in North America was about 6 feet long, lasted less than two seconds, and aggressively hurtled me into a pile of sand. Some of the slides in Okinawa are hundreds of feet long and can last about one minute going down.
If you would like to bring your children somewhere they can be constantly active and excited for at least two hours, then you should definitely consider bringing them to one of the many playgrounds on Okinawa. In this day and age of iPhones and gaming consoles, having fun outside in a park is a great way to show your children there is more to life than playing with electronic devices indoors.
One incredible park is the Tobaru Koen a.k.a. the “Roller Slide Park” located in Chatan. There is a giant slide that is 83 meters above sea level, and at the top of the slide there is a 360-degree lookout tower, which provides you with a view of the entire island. There is a walking path, basketball courts and multiple washroom facilities that add to convenience of the park, and these conveniences are just some of the reasons this is my favorite park.
The second best park on the island is Nishizaki Athletic Park. If you live in Chatan it is a little longer of a drive than the Roller Slide Park as it’s located in Itoman City, but in my opinion it’s worth every minute of the drive. The park not only has a jungle gym for kids, but there is also a massive slide that lets you glide over the kids water park/wading pool below. The park also boasts an outdoor pool, baseball field, gymnasium, multipurpose area, running track, and tennis courts. The washroom facilities are in the shape of giant boat. Upon seeing how cool this is, I truly believe more washrooms in parks should be theme based!
The last park I am going to recommend is close to the airport area of Tomigusuku. The park is surrounding the Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters, and is called Kaigungou Koen. This is the ultimate playground in my mind. It has two huge rollercoaster slides that twist and wind down the side of the hill, and when you want to go back up you can either take the stairs or climb your way up using nets, ropes and ladders. In my opinion this is the best of all of the parks on the island. The park is facilitated with plenty of shade, parking and even convenient vending machines.
Whether you are a family with children or an adventurous babysitter in charge of children you think may be a handful, one thing on Okinawa that there is plenty of are playgrounds. It’s the healthiest place to bring kids to get them to play their hearts out and discover that outside is the best side. When you reach home after a long day of playing, hopefully their energy will be spent, and they will be too tired for iPhones and gaming consoles. Children will get a good rest and most likely will want to go to the park all over again the next day!