By Ignatius Koh
Japan is home to some of the biggest and best things in the world. But its most important treasure remains below the radar for reasons unknown to me. Even in its status as an achievement honored by the Guinness Book of World Records, it unbelievably remains in the distant shadow of the “World’s Tallest Tower” and “World’s Longest Suspended Monorail But Not All Monorails.” Knock those sites down a notch on your priority list, Japan tourists. Make way for the World’s Shortest Escalator!
This majestic piece of people-moving equipment is located in Kawasaki, a city located directly between the major metropolitan areas of Tokyo and Yokohama that are frequented by international visitors. This makes it easy for you informed travelers to scratch off other, "tourist-friendly" spots that are likely littering your to-do list in order to make time for a visit.
The record-holding escalator is conveniently located in the basement levels of More's Department Store, ideally set far away from the heavy-traffic areas of the building that people actually tend to visit. This allowed me to ride it alone five consecutive times before someone else came along and ruined everything.
The record-holding height of the escalator is 83.4 cm, a distance equivalent to 2.7 feet, or the height of a 26-month-old girl wearing roller skates (not recommended). The staircase located directly next to the escalator contains 5 steps. Using the stopwatch function on my cell phone, one trip on the escalator takes an average of 4.6 seconds, or slightly longer than it takes to walk down the aforementioned staircase at a brisk pace. The majority of the people passing by, who I can only assume have ridden it enough times in the past to satisfy themselves for the long term, seemed to be testing that regularly.
More’s Department Store is a large one, containing a wide variety of shops and vendors, and even has a video game arcade on a higher floor.
The most unfortunate aspect of the surrounding amenities is the supermarket that takes up the rest of the floor the escalator is on. While food prices there are certainly lower than the overpriced fare at other tourist traps, it seemed that barbecuing or setting down a blanket there would be frowned upon. A quick survey of the surrounding area yielded no picnicking areas either, so visitors are encouraged to eat heartily beforehand.
Those looking to make a weekend out of it should be sure to click on the “Hotels & Lodging” tab at the top of this page to find JapanTourist’s overnight accommodation guide and booking system.
More's Department Store is located across the street from the East Exit of the JR Kawasaki Station (Tokaido, Keihin-Tohoku, and Nambu Lines). The escalator can be found in the basement, near the exit to the parking area. The escalator is located just inside Exit 29 of the underground tunnel area that connects to the shopping areas nearby. There is no cost for riding it, except maybe your dignity.
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