Underground nursery puts Tokyo hub on growth path

Japanese conveyor belt manufacturer Itoh Denki has converted an unused tunnel 10m below ground into what is being billed as the world's first fully automated underground plant factory in Chiba prefecture.
Japanese conveyor belt manufacturer Itoh Denki has converted an unused tunnel 10m below ground into what is being billed as the world's first fully automated underground plant factory in Chiba prefecture.PHOTO: ITOH DENKI

Chiba government turns abandoned tunnel into a fully-automated vegetable farm

The burst of Japan's bubble economy in the 1990s scuppered a grand plan by the Chiba prefectural government to develop the Makuhari area, reclaimed from Tokyo Bay, into a business, commercial and residential hub.

Although it is now an up-and-coming district which hosts the annual Tokyo Game Show and Summer Sonic music festival, as well as Japan's second largest convention centre, there was one big white elephant: a 3.1km-long tunnel completed in 1995 to house water pipes and electrical cables.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 06, 2019, with the headline 'Underground nursery puts Tokyo hub on growth path'. Print Edition | Subscribe