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Music Echoes in Huge Underground Void in Tokyo

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By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
A classical music concert is held at the Kanda River/Ring Road No. 7 Underground Regulating Reservoir in Suginami Ward, Tokyo, on Dec. 23.

Classical music echoed within an underground vault reservoir built in Tokyo to prevent flooding as the facility was transformed into a concert venue.

Hoping to raise disaster prevention awareness, the Tokyo metropolitan government organized the Dec. 23 concerts at the Kanda River/Ring Road No. 7 Underground Regulating Reservoir, which is a 4.5-kilometer-long tunnel. The Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association and Tobu Top Tours Co. carried out the event for the first time last fiscal year and this was the first time it has been held this season. The events are held during a relatively dry time of year.

By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
The concert venue is located 40 meters below the heavily trafficked Ring Road No. 7.
By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
Participants visit the reservoir’s inflow hole ahead of the classical concert. In the event of heavy rains, floodwater from rivers falls through this hole into the main tunnel.

Ring Road No. 7 runs along the outer edge of Tokyo’s wards area. The concerts took place in the tunnel about 40 meters below the road’s section between Suginami and Nakano wards. Although the general road has considerable traffic noise during the daytime, the venue is completely detached from the clamor and bustle above ground and is plunged into pitch-darkness when the lights are turned off.

The tunnel, completed in 2008, has an inner diameter of 12.5 meters and can temporarily store up to about 540,000 cubic meters of water from swollen rivers in the event of flooding.

By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
After taking stairs leading down 40 meters below ground level, each participant passes through this sturdy door to the concert venue.

The Dec. 23 concerts featured a trumpet, horn and trombone trio. The tunnel was filled with the elegant sounds of music as members of the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, a professional brass band based nearby, performed Christmas music.

Three concerts were held that day, bringing in about 70 people in total.

“I signed up for the event after learning about it on social media. I didn’t even know that a place like this existed,” said Jun Amano, a 57-year-old social insurance labor consultant from Yokohama. “I enjoyed the wonderful sound of the music in a unique environment.”

Concerts are scheduled to be held on Jan. 21 and Feb. 10. A visit to the tunnel, combined with various sightseeing tours, is also available.

By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
Following the concert, participants walk through the illuminated liaison section that connects the tunnel’s main part and the inflow hole.