59 goats, 59 babies and 59 virgins, just as demanded by God. The high priest was sure that He would be appeased. This was a sacrifice of the biggest scale which the kingdom had ever made. But the people understood that it was reasonable; God's demands were always reasonable. You would think it was unreasonable only if you lacked faith.
The high priest started to recite from the scripture. The ancient language could only be learned by those with a flexible tongue. Some people were just lucky enough to be endowed with one at birth but to a high priest, it did not matter anyway. It came with all those practice at Sunday sermons.
As the chanting eventually came to an end, the most miraculous thing happened. Lights began to pour into the underground chamber and showered upon the high priest.
The high priest stretched his arms wide, and looking into the heavens, praised God.
* * * * *
Alright, that was not the pantheon but it was a real photo nevertheless, albeit with some editing. The photo was taken in the most marvelous underground structure in Japan, namely the Metropolitan Area Outer Discharge Channel (首都圏外郭放水路) in Saitama. The facility was built for flood mitigation purposes and is supposedly the biggest of its kind.
How big exactly, you ask. Chew on this.
- The tunnels run 50m underground, parallel to a highway. Meanwhile, Oedo Line, which is touted as the deepest subway line in Japan runs only at 22.2m underground. As a reference, one storey is roughly equivalent to 3m.
- Five cylindrical pits draw water from the nearby rivers should they overflow. These pits are 70m deep. That is big enough to snugly fit in the Statue of Liberty, a space shuttle, or the leaning tower of Pisa.
- Equipped with four gas turbine engines similar to that of a jet plane's, the pumps are capable of discharging 200 tonnes of water per second. That is equivalent to emptying a 25m pool in a second!
Nevertheless, reservations are always full. I placed a reservation for eight persons as early as two months ago! But if you are patient enough, you can always wait till the open day, when the facility is opened to the public, no reservation required.
This is the control room of the facility. I haven't watched an Ultraman movie since a decade ago but this is supposedly the command center in Ultraman Cosmos. Whoa, so this is where all the save-the-world actions take place during the non-monsoon periods!
After some lengthy explanations, we were finally brought to the underground pressurizing chamber. For some obvious reason, I prefer to call it the "underground pantheon".
This chamber is supported by 59 concrete pillars, each weighing 400 tonnes. Now that's the weight of 400 cars. It is a lot but it is required to counter the buoyancy of subterranean water.
The far end of the chamber, where everything is pitch black, led to the pumps that discharge water into the Edo River. On the opposite end, lies the first pit. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to venture too far down the chamber. And by "too far", I mean "the second row of pillars". The time allowed for taking photographs was too short too - a mere 10 minutes.
But then again, these people are more than generous for allowing the public to visit the place. What better way to feel its grandeur than to see for yourself?