Japan’s Modern Underground Palace
Located 30 minutes to the northeast of Tokyo by train, in Kasukabe City, Saitama Prefecture, is a facility that resembles a huge underground Parthenon. This 6.3 kilometer long drainage conduit, built for flood control, cost a total of 230 billion yen ($2.875 billion) and took 13 years to construct. It was completed in 2006. Its function is to drain water from a river before it overflows its banks and transfer the water underground to another river.
The most impressive spot is a huge underground cavern where river water from the respective conduits converges at a single place, a “regulator cistern,” where the flow is adjusted. Measuring 177 meters long by 78 meters wide and 18 meters high, and supported by 59 concrete pillars, the sheer scale is quite overwhelming. Its No. 1 shaft, measuring 31 meters in diameter and 70 meters deep, is big enough to accommodate NASA’s Space Shuttle.
However, there are only about 10 days out of the year in which water courses through the facility. In addition to being open to public viewing, it is made available for films and TV commercials, and also hosts events such as music concerts.