Japan // Kansai //

Technology, ecology and art

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A more unusual sightseeing destination in the bay area is the Maishima Incineration Plant (舞洲工場), which was commissioned after Ōsaka’s bid for the 2008 Olympics failed. With bulbous ceramic columns, gold-plated turret roofs and tiered gardens, this extraordinary building was designed by the Austrian conservation architect and artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and completed in 2001. It looks more like a storybook castle than a hi-tech garbage combustor, and is often mistaken for an extension of the nearby Universal Studios Japan. Inside, 450 tonnes of waste are processed daily. Free tours of the plant are given on weekdays at 10am, 1pm or 3pm, and while there are some interesting displays detailing Hundertwasser’s “technology, ecology and art” concept, the tour mainly focuses on the incineration process. However, it is worth gaining access to the building for a closer inspection of the architectural detail of the upper levels. The tour is in Japanese but there are plenty of English explanations on the displays, as well as an informative pamphlet. Bookings must be made at least a week in advance with the Ōsaka Environmental Management Bureau (90min). To get there, take a train to JR Sakurajima Station (桜島駅), one stop after Universal City, and catch the #56 bus to Konohana-Ohashi Nishizume (此花大橋西詰), or the Hokko Bus to Kankyo-kyoku Mae (環境局前); both stop in front of the incinerator.

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