One of the most interesting sights I saw in Turkey in 2011 was the underground Basilica Cistern (below) which featured in the second James Bond film `From Russia With Love` (1963). I often forget about this place as my trip to Istanbul was basically just an add-on to the main Jordan-part of the holiday.
On my return to Tokyo I heard there was a similar place located in Saitama somewhere. I knew bookings were necessary to see it but the years passed by and I just never got round to putting my plan into practice, and it over time it got crossed off my bucket list. However, my interest was renewed this year and eventually after a decade I finally got to visit the place.
This Underground Shrine, known as G-Cans, (720 Kamikanasaki, Kasukabe, Saitama-ken) is located just 35 kilometres north-east of the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre. You`d think it would be fairly straightforward to get from Itabashi to Kasukabe, and indeed it took just over an hour of train travel. However, it involved FIVE different trains followed by a forty minute walk at Minami-sakurai on the Tobu Urban Park Line which is the closest station. For the record, there are buses but we wasn`t sure when they were so went on foot.
One of the reasons it took me ten years to finally visit this place is I only really wanted to go in the midst of Summer as I thought it would offer nice respite from the hot and humid conditions in Tokyo. That was certainly true, but on the other hand we still needed to get to the place and it was a boiling hot late-August day when we went so were sweating by the time we arrived ready for our 11am appointment.
From the outside it would be very hard to guess what we were about to embark on if you didn`t know. Indeed, my wife didn`t know as I hadn`t told her and she just assumed it was some kind of educational museum when we eventually saw this Drainage Pump Station building (below) in the distance. In a way she was right but it wasn`t quite what she had in mind!
There are three different tours available (Bank Route 3000 yen, Pump Route – 2500 yen and the Underground Shrine Route – 1000 yen) and I made an online reservation for my wife and I to take one of the morning group tours of the latter option.
Having descended 50 metres beneath the surface via 116 steps we were in the pressure-adjusting water tank referred to as the “Underground Shrine”; a vast flood control area with 59 colossal pillars weighing 500 tons each. They supposedly resemble the columns of the Parthenon in Greece which may explain the shrine nickname!
This Metropolitan outer area underground discharge channel is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It was constructed to drain floodwater from small and medium-sized rivers through 6.3 kilometres of tunnels into the Edogawa River. We only got to see a minor fraction of that total length as the water tank we were in is only 177 metres in length.
The only other view on offer to us was in the opposite direction but we couldn`t get too close so all the shots below were taken by zooming in. I think it`s the massive vertical 70 metre-deep shaft which is part of the Bank Tour where visitors can walk round the top of it.
There wasn`t much to the tour to be honest but I was more than happy to just be left alone to wander this part of the region`s flood control facilities. Following a fairly brief introduction (in Japanese) by the tour guide we were then left to our own devices for about 40-45 minutes but to be fair that is overly generous as the area you`re restricted to doesn`t take long to look around.
Bonus: The walk to and from G-Cans saw us pass by these vegetable vending machines.
The vegetables on offer at 100 yen each were varied, big and of great value.
Click here to read `TF Top 10……Alternative Sights In Saitama Prefecture`
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Top 10 Saitama Sights’
Click here to read `The Lion, The Bridge & The Watergate – A Cycle Ride Up Into Saitama Prefecture`
Click here to read `Turkey 2011 Pt III: Istanbul Day 2`