THE JAPANESE are masters at living in very small spaces — and if you’ve stayed in a budget hotel room in Tokyo you’ll know just how compact (well, squished by American standards) those rooms can be.

They’re also masters at packing people into pools — so many that it’s truly standing-room only in a pool in the Tokyo Summerland theme park.

It’s way too crowded to swim, but the pool provides the action for swimmers: Artificial waves sweep across it, causing the thousands of people to bob and shriek with glee in their brightly colored inner tubes.

When it’s hot summer in the city, it’s a crowd-lover’s way to cool off — and get some standing-in-place exercise.

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Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at