Visitors see a marvel of engineering at Tokyo’s Showa Drainage Pump Station
By ALLEN ONSTOTT | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 28, 2016
TOKYO — Infra-tourism — sightseeing at utilities such as dams, tunnels and bridges — is becoming popular in Japan, a country blessed with some impressive man-made edifices.
Tourists can enjoy views from dizzying heights at one of the country’s many tall bridges or stand atop a dam listening to the rush of water while learning about the roles of these fantastic structures.
The Showa Drainage Pump Station on the outskirts of Tokyo is a prime example of this type of attraction.
One of the world’s largest underground discharge channels, it opened in 2006 after a construction period of 13 years and now directs flood waters into the Edo River at a controlled pressure. Free public tours of the facility are conducted daily.
Visitors climb down into a gigantic underground temple-like space. This is an enormous water cistern built below the ground to reduce the flow of water and drain it smoothly into the Edo.
Before being discharged, water is stored in a huge pressure-controlled tank. The tank is designed to perform multiple functions, including abating the force of running water and adjusting water pressure that could change sharply if a pump breaks.
The tank is almost the size of a football field, and its ceiling is supported by 59 massive pillars 60 feet tall and weighing 500 tons each.
This concrete cavern has served as a movie set for Japanese films, a TV superhero action series and a car commercial. It’s also featured in the video game “Mirror’s Edge.”
Echoes are carried through the vast concrete chamber. Low-pitched reverberated rumbling is often heard, but it’s impossible to tell where it’s coming from.
Another drainage tank at the facility could easily fit a space shuttle inside.
Visitors also get to see how four gas turbine pumps can drain a swimming pool in one second. State-of-the-art technology in the facility’s control room allows workers to control and monitor water flows.
Showa Drainage Pump Station
DIRECTIONS: By train, the Showa Drainage Pump Station is about 90 minutes north of Tokyo on the Tobu Noda Line. Exit at Minami-Sakurai Station in Saitama. It’s a 7-minute taxi ride from there.
TIMES: Tours are conducted daily. Call 048-746-7524 for times.
COSTS: Tour is free, but reservations are required.
FOOD: There are no restaurants on the premises, but there’s a vending machine in the lobby. There are restaurants with moderate prices across the street from the train station.
INFORMATION: For safety, tours require a Japanese translator. Call 048-746-7524 for tour times; ktr.mlit.go.jp/edogawa/gaikaku/english