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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wanna Go For A Slide?

For those of you who watch the History Channel or Discovery Channel or speciality television like that, you may have come across various programs regarding Japan’s so-called Atlantis… possible submerged man-made structures from 4,000 years ago, or maybe they are just strangely-formed natural confluences of rock.

That site is located off the shores of Yonaguni-jima (Yonaguni Island), the westernmost island claimed by Japan some 108 kilometers (67 miles) away from Taiwan… which is why Taiwan also lays claim to, as does China, because… well, it’s China. It still wants Taiwan back.

Lost to the spoils of war
Back in the 15th century, Yonaguni-jima was incorporated into the Ryūkyū Kingdom, and that whole culture and chain of islands was annexed by Japan in 1889.

For those of us who have read Japanese history books, you may have come across such archaic terms for Japanese places such as Lewchew, Luchu and Loochoo… I’ve seen those in newspaper accounts from that era, for example.

It sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?

 The Ryūkyū Ōkoku (琉球王国, Ryūkyū Kingdom) consisted of Okinawa, Amani Islands ( part of Kagoshim) and Sakishima Islands (near Taiwan).

Despite having been a part of Japan for about 150 years, ask anyone from these islands what they are, and they’ll describe themselves as Okinawan or Yoniguni first, Japanese second.

Anyhow… this blog isn’t about the structure under the waters off Yoniguni Island.

This is about that ridiculous structure at the very top of this article.Well... not that one, but one almost identical to it. This one is from Tokyo... the one I am talking about is...

the infamous Yoniguni slide.

It’s not the largest in the world, or even Japan and probably not even in all of the Ryukun isles… I just thought it was such an odd thing to find on such a remote island.

It’s made of metal rollers, the kind you might see on the older more standard conveyor system used to transport goods at a manufacturing facility.

It looks like it was made for Japanese bums… and by that I mean, not too wide, but in reality it is made for kids.

Kids… kids who don’t mind propelling themselves down rolling cylinders around corners at near breakneck speeds, where to me the greatest dangers are… getting one’s skin or leg hair caught between the rollers, or even dumber, burning the crap out of one’s legs owing to the fact that the rider wore shorts, and the fact that it’s stupidly hot and sunny that day.

As you have guessed, such infernal torture devices that could only have come from some sick Japanese version of the Marquis Desaad, and do exist in limited quantity, but not that limited, around various parts of Japan where I assume kids haven’t learned how to play with a ball… or a rock… anything that would actually seem less dangerous than this.

Or… consequently… if kids only knew how dangerous slides like the one in Yoniguni actually are, they might want to use it more  - win-win-loss…  win because they are outside and not playing video games… win because the city has found a use for that old conveyor system from that factory that went out of business years ago… and loss because it’s a flesh and hair grabbing monstrosity that would cripple tiny children who get their fingers stuck between the rollers or burn the flesh off them.

I never once mentioned butts getting bruised, but that’s because you kindda need to have a some meat on your butt to get a bruise… those flat, stereotypical Japanese butts just might break. So there’s that too.

The photos above were taken from my television screen via the show Expedition Unknown, which I watch hoping to find answers, but leave mostly disappointed that we don’t get to see things to its conclusion.

I know that’s not the fault of the host who seems like fun guy you’d want to hang with and eat a plate of nachos and either a wobbly pop or a Coke… because how the heck do you figure out the history and current location of the Ark of the Covenant, for example, in a one hour show that is in reality only 48 minutes long, and thanks to the recaps after every commercial might only be about 36 minutes long…

Still… if not for this show I’d never have learned that there were such nefarious torture devices as the Yoniguni slide.

Andrew Joseph
PS: The headline is a wordplay on the Smashing Pumpkins song: Zero, that contains the line: wanna go for a ride?  The video below was created by a fan, as all original version swere taken off YouTube... but you can find the original on Vimeo:
If you want a full circle, co-founder and lead guitarist of the Smashing Pumpkins is James Yoshinobu Iha (井葉吉伸 Iha Yoshinobu - surname first). No... I didn't know that, but wondered if this was the case 25 years ago when I first came across the group...   


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