Underground cathedral

In Europe I love visiting churches and cemeteries. Here, there are not many churches to visit. And sometimes when you think you see a church, it’s just a wedding venue. Then I read about the underground cathedral, saw this picture and knew I had to go there!

This cathedral was opened in 2006 after a 13 years’ construction period. As you can imagine, its purpose is purely secular and there has probably never been a church service in there. It’s part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel System “Sairyu no Kawa”. The system was planned and constructed to prevent rain-related floodings. It consists of 5 huge tanks positioned over a length of 6.3 km and connected through an underground channel.

Discharge channel system (Figure from Edogawa River Office)

They offer tours to visit the cathedral and/or tank no. 1. Of course we booked the grand tour to visit both.

Showa drainage pump station
Ready to enter tank no. 1

To enter the tank we had to put on helmets and a safety belt which we then attached to a guard rail on the gangway. The guide led us around the tank and kept explaining things. The tour was in Japanese. However, there is an audioguide app which we could download during the introduction. If you’re interested, you can download it here for Apple or here for Android.

After almost one hour in the tank, we climbed up the stairs again, handed back the equipment and walked over to the entrance to the underground cathedral. There we were asked to walk down the stairs one after the other with a distance of at least 2 meters between us. And due to security reasons we were not allowed to take pictures while walking down. They didn’t want to risk any tripping accidents…

Standing in the cathedral was really very impressive. But even though we planned our trip because of the underground cathedral, I found the walk inside the tank much more exciting. Almost a bit scary. I wonder how the tour would be during rainy season. The guide told us they continue with the tours even when tank and cathedral are flooded. Must be quite the spectacle!

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