Gallery: TAMING TYPHOONS: Incredible Storm Water System in Japan


If you think that’s a computer rendering, guess again. The incredible engineering masterpiece pictured above is a massive stormwater management solution for the metropolitan area of the city of Saitama, Japan. While it looks like the set of the next action blockbuster or music video, the structure is real and will leave you washed away if you overstay your welcome when a typhoon hits. Coming in at 25.4 meters tall (83 feet) and 78 meters (255 feet) wide and running 177 meters long (580 feet), the massive underground system started construction in 1992, and is open for tourists interested in exploring a vast concrete landscape.

The Metropolitan Area Outer Discharge Channel was designed to alleviate the rainfall that has caused six major floods to occur in the region since 1979, two from typhoons, providing an underground response to an above ground occurrence. According to engineers, the gargantuan sewer water discharge channel will reduce the flooded area by more than 80%. Completed behind schedule a few years ago, this extensive system has yet to be put to use, but is open for inquiring minds wanting to experience the self designated “underground temple” firsthand.

With the unfortunate string of natural disasters occurring nowadays, we are always happy to see advance planning. Although a large and costly undertaking, the metropolitan inhabitants of Saitama, Japan can rest a little easier, knowing that their water troubles will be well beneath them when the next major storm hits.

+ Metropolitan Area Outer Discharge Channel


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  1. November 21, 2008 at 8:54 am

    I’m excitedly waiting all the changes in technology and availability of vehicles in the near future!!!

  2. JCD57 September 8, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I have lived in Japan for 10 years. The fact is that the Japanese have been forced to be more resourceful than other people because of the lack of land and natural resources available to them.
    As for being smarter than anyone else, it is simply not true. However, they do make better use of their funds than other countries do.
    This yellow race crap is really stupid, leafpure, because of the amount of underdeveloped countries in Asia. Talk about biased.
    The people in Japan envy the people in the USA because of their individualism, which many of them do not enjoy because of cultural traditions. However, they enjoy being Japanese.

  3. sic July 22, 2008 at 5:36 am

    If anyone has read “Dogs and Demons” by Alex Kerr, you will know why the Japanese government has to find reasons to embark on ambitious yet palpably unnecessary projects such as this one. Admittedly, I do not have the analysis to hand, but would hazard a guess that this is a vastly over-engineered solution to a hardly-ever-witnessed scenario.

    @leafpure: as much as I love Japan (I am currently living in Tokyo), I’m sorry, but perhaps you should reconsider your rather rose-tinted point of view..

    @brunda, mia: I would imagine it was fairly horrendous, but that is not high on the list of the government’s priorities.. They just want to lay down concrete. Wherever, whenever.

  4. Mia July 21, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Like Brunda, I’d want to know what the ecological impacts of this are. What happens to all that water? Is it discharged into the ocean? Run off often often contains pollutants from lawn fertilizers, motor oil and other things that harm the marine environment. Is it recycled as greywater, or treated and used as a municipal water resource?

    The gargantuan size is impressive, but the project would be more so if it took a more holistic view.

  5. Brunda Ganesh July 19, 2008 at 8:21 am

    I was wondering since its featured here….what is the overall ecological impact (construction and post construction also) of something like this?. Its great that there are countries willing to go to such extents in disaster management, but is something like this the only solution?.

  6. July 18, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Awesome, just booked my tour in September! Hope it’s dry enough to go down there.

  7. Dilgepwent July 18, 2008 at 8:08 am

    A movie was shot here i think. One of the Die Hard movies with Bruce Willis involved a chase scene to get to an explosive located (i think) in these tunnels. That would have been the late 90’s but some of these pictures are too familiar.

  8. SPG July 17, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Since we\’re getting all political on this one anyway….


  9. leafpure July 17, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Oops, you are right blarg, correct my mistake. I meant the “yellow” race is more evolved than the “white” race.
    That’s what I meant.
    We (the US) – btw. I am European- had nothing to do with the Japanese ability to innovate. They work harder, they are more intelligent, and more evolved, generally speaking, and genetically of course.
    That’s cold hard math (err truth).

  10. blarg July 17, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    leafpure, they are not \”much more evolved\” than any other nation. after the US bombed the crap out of them then rebuilt them (thus launching them into the modern era), what else can they offer the world but technological innovation?

  11. leafpure July 17, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    It looks like from The Matrix movie set- the Zion world. There was also this giant tube only with floors and dwellings.
    The Japanese are very smart people, much further evolved than us.
    Sorry if that makes a strong statement.

  12. aa_lawth July 17, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    This looks a lot like the cisterns beneath the city of Istanbul.

  13. M2JL July 17, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Japan will never cease to amaze me! This is really impressive… I predict some movie being shot there in the future…

  14. DeadPanDan July 17, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Great, another place I have to visit before I die. This list is getting too long.

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