Sea of Clouds at Showa Kinen Park
Kumo no Umi (Sea of Clouds) is a trampoline in the Showa Kinen Koen (Showa Memorial Park) in Nishi-Tachikawa, on the west side of Tokyo. The trampoline is built as a clump of hills and valleys of various sizes. The white vinyl looks, from afar, like a sea of clouds in the midst of an ocean of trees, occupied by a huge navy of children sailing the waves.
The children, of various ages and sizes, bounce and run along the surface, thrown along the stormy sea. I think many an adult observer has wondered, what makes this kind of playground so interesting and fun. It seems so simple and redundant. How could one play on such a thing for so long?
But it seems to me that it is a wonderful field of pleasant surprises. The uneven and elastic floor makes ones balance unpredictable. The random options of others distorts the otherwise negotiable adjustments one makes to restore balance. Inevitably, the child is thrown mercilessly in the air and on the floor. But instead of pain, the cloudy sea floor beckons the child to jump up and fly again.