Underground Trekking in Saitama
Calling all urban trekkers!
Summer has hit Tokyo unbelievably hard this year, so what better way to get out of the heat and away from the sun's harmful rays than by taking an invigorating stroll in the underground G-Cans Project.
Officially named the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel, many who have visited or plan to visit the project enthusiastically refer to it (usually in a hushed, ominous voice) as The Underground Tunnel.
Just on the outskirts of Tokyo in Kasukabe, Saitama lies the world’s largest underground flood prevention system. Construction for this massive, two-billion-dollar project went from 1992 to 2009. Redirecting water into the Edogawa River in response to numerous instances of flooding in Tokyo and the greater metropolitan area during typhoon season.
Its main purpose might be to protect the city from flooding, but this enormous underground complex also makes for a great place to cool down and get those walking muscles moving. You can take an underground stroll in a 50-meter-deep, 6.5-kilometer-long cathedral-like concrete tunnel system. Something about taking a free tour around this incredible man-made cave perfectly eases the body, mind, and even the wallet.
Be aware that you’ll need a Japanese-speaking member in your group or you will need to know how to speak and understand Japanese well enough in case of a flash flood. You will need to be able to follow the tour leader’s instructions and take all the necessary safety precautions without a hitch. Wear comfortable walking shoes as well, and note that during the rainy season the ground may be wet enough to soak through your footwear. Have fun, fellow urban trekkers.
Reservations: Reservations for the guided tour can only be made in Japanese.
Tour times: Every hour from 10A.M. until 4P.M.
Getting there: From Tokyo, transfer from the Sobu Line, the Chuo-Sobu Line, the Tohoku Shinkansen, or the Tobu Skytree Line to get on the Tobu Oda Line. Get off at Minami-Sakurai Station. If you don’t feel like walking for 40 minutes from the station, the easiest way to get there is by a seven-minute taxi ride that will cost about ¥1,000.
Address: 720 Kamikanasaki, Kasukabe City, Saitama 344-0111
Text by Yulia Mizushima. Photos by Daniel Saakes.