Deep beneath the ground, 32 kilometers north of Tokyo, lies a truly incredible feat of engineering. The G-Cans Project is the largest storm drain on earth, a colossal series of underground silos and tunnels, built to protect Tokyo from flooding during typhoon seasons. Its main hall (actually an enormous water tank) is held up by 59 columns each 25 meters high, and is known as the “Underground Temple”.
The facility is free to visit by guided tour, and the folks at Another Tokyo, a Japanese website introducing off-the-beaten-track places from around the country, recently went to check it out.
G-Cans (Shutoken Gaikaku Hosuiro, or the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel) is located in Kasukabe in eastern Saitama. The area is historically prone to flooding, and the G-Cans facility collects storm water from no less than five different rivers. It cost over 200 million yen and took 17 years to construct, being completed in 2009. Due to its epic proportions and all-round underground spookiness, it has also been used as the setting for TV shows and commercials.
The facility is accessible via the underground exploration museum “Ryukyukan” (龍Q館). Tours are free, but must be booked in advance. Your ticket doubles as a souvenir postcard.
The facility is made up of five concrete containment silos, 65 by 32 metres, connected by six kilometers of tunnels. It’s this main water tank, the so-called “Underground Temple”, which is the real showstopper though. At a height of 25 meters, and stretching for 177 meters, the visiting people are dwarfed by the sheer scale of it.
Storm water flows into the facility through five cylindrical shafts. The ceiling is held up by 59 enormous pillars. Each weighing 500 tons, these also function as weights, preventing the tank, which is as large as a football pitch, from rising towards the surface.
Tours operate three times a day, but only on weekdays – in fact, only Tuesday to Friday.
There is some English information available on the official website; however, there are no English tours, and if you don’t understand Japanese, the organisers require that you bring an interpreter.
Oh yeah, and access to the main surge tank is cancelled when it’s “in use”. Well, you wouldn’t want to be in there with all that water, would you?
Source and image: Another Tokyo Additional sources: Shutoken Gaikaku Hosuiro Official Site, Atlas Obscura
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