Classic slide transplanted to Europe
BY CHISATO MATSUMOTO STAFF WRITER
The octopus slide in Copenhagen. (Takeshi Mochizuki)Japanese and Danish plasterers work on the curved section of the slide in Copenhagen. (Takeshi Mochizuki)Children play on an octopus slide in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
The Japanese are suckers for a "Tako Suberidai" (octopus slide), with about 200 across the country. But now, the playground institution is extending a tentacle to a global audience.
A 6-meter-tall, 10-meter-wide new slide has just been completed by a team of Japanese plasterers and Danish builders in Copenhagen.
The city's Super Killen Project is bringing playground apparatus from around the world to a new park to be opened in December.
Laura Koch Rotne, a city official overseeing the project, said the Japanese octopus slide would be surrounded by cherry blossom trees and grass and would be a key landmark in the new park.
The first octopus slide in Japan was built around 1968 by Maeda Environmental Art Co. of Tokyo's Shibuya Ward.
An artist working for Maeda created a complex playground apparatus featuring many curving slides. Other employees noticed that it looked like an octopus without a head and a little roofed chamber, shaped like an octopus' head, was added.
Octopus slides are now a common sight in cities across Japan. In Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward, residents even launched a petition to save one that had been earmarked for demolition.
An image of one of the slides on the Internet caught the eye of an employee of the Danish architectural office commissioned to design the Copenhagen park.
Work began on May 8, and the structure took about one month for a team of Japanese plasterers and Danish builders to complete. First, an iron framework was erected and then layers of cement were carefully applied.
The cement had to be applied evenly in layers of around 10 millimeters to 15 millimeters to prevent swings in temperature from cracking the structure.
Takeshi Mochizuki, a 43-year-old plasterer on the project, said his Danish colleagues had been impressed by the skill needed to create the slide's smooth curving lines.
"At a time when plasterers are rapidly aging and those who can inherit the skills are thinning out, it feels good to be recognized by people overseas," Mochizuki said.
Yaemi Maeda, who runs Maeda, said: "Each octopus has a distinctive design, and much work goes in to each slide. While the slide sets, which are made using traditional techniques, are becoming old-fashioned in Japan, they are new to people overseas."