G-Cans Tour: Tokyo Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Tunnel

In between jobs I had some time off, which meant I had few spare weekdays up my sleeve. I was lucky to score a tour of the G-Cans, which is only available on weekdays. Signing up for a spot on the G-Cans Tour is almost like winning the lottery. You’ll be hardpressed to get a spot. Bookings are only available in Japanese and open one month prior at the stroke of midnight. So many people try to book at midnight that the site crashes. For hours I kept refreshing, fell asleep and then woke up at 4:30am to check what spots were left. Only 2 spots left for the month! I snapped them quicksmart.

“I’ve got a golden ticket”:

https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipMISlLyP5xlkoTQ4B7mDuuLCfQyySoZohbTKtyU/photo/AF1QipNnG_vDHUPix8CLVd6bV9Y2sYamF1LR2tIIuA0h

Be prepared to get up really early or stay up all night to book your spot, and you’ll need to navigate the site in Japanese. Got my online confirmation, so all good to go. Tours are only available in Japanese so you’ll need to understand Japanese or take a Japanese speaking person with you (just make sure that you’ve booked for the appropriate numbers). You can book for as many as you like (from memory, may have been capped at about 6 people though, although separate bookings are made for group bookings.) If you turn up to the tour and your Japanese is inadequate, they can refuse you for safety reasons.

Last Friday afternoon, the housemate and I had time off work to join the 3pm G-Cans tour. So what are the G-Cans? It’s the Tokyo Metropolitan Area Underground Discharge Tunnels. The place though is located in Saitama and will take over an hour to get to. Literally located in the middle of nowhere and then about a 40min walk from the closest station (or a very short taxi ride). The tunnels are part of an underground discharge network for Tokyo’s river systems to prevent flooding. It is the world’s largest underground floodwater facility and you can enter a portion of the underground part if you join a tour. And the tour is free.

The drainage facility is nicknamed the G-Cans and it has become a popular tourist attraction having received a lot of media attention when a car commercial was filmed there. It’s become popular photography spot for photo shoots etc. It’s quite the hike to get out there. You’ll spend more time getting to/from there than on the actual tour. From the closest station, we took a taxi there (about 1000yen). You need to bring your online confirmation receipt and then register and fill out a form when you get there.

If you get there early enough (about 15min prior), you can request to watch the English video which explains the facility in English. They also have an English brochure which was super informative. And then the one-hour Japanese tour begins. The tour starts in the museum with a video and some diagrams and displays of the function of the facility and then the fun part – going underground. You only get about 15 minutes in the underground tunnel which resembles a temple. And 10 minutes is allowed for photo free time. Also the area in which you are allowed to roam about in the underground aqueduct is also limited to a roped off area. Who knew drains could be so much fun?!

All in all it was cool and interesting. Super fascinating and really informative. People go there mostly for the photo op though. Pro photographers, media and press are also allowed access but need to get media/press permissions (applications are through their website in Japanese). I was super thrilled to be able to have the time on a weekday to do a tour there. Due to personal logistics, I didn’t take my SLR camera, although totally wanted to. Enjoy the photos….they get better towards the end…maybe…. no guarantees.

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From G-Cans
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From G-Cans

The Control Room…which no one was in control of….

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The underground tunnel actually lies beneath this soccer field.

From G-Cans
From G-Cans
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The entrance:

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From G-Cans

And then down a flight of 106 stairs and into the “temple” where I went overboard with photos, but that’s my style.

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And here’s a GIFt for you:

From G-Cans
From G-Cans

I should add, that it’s wet and cool down there. In cases of heavy rain, tours will be cancelled as these tunnels will actually be functional.

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We ended up walking back to the station after the tour as we were literally in the middle of nowhere and no taxis. The walk back took about 40min. Along the way, we came across an awesome mural which was the perfect spot for some fun illusion photography.

From G-Cans

It’s a giant painting of a bench, but it looks like I’m actually sitting in it. Some nice squat work by me.

From G-Cans

5193573 2014-09-04 21:29:57

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