On this week’s Deep Dive, we speak to Alex K.T. Martin who has done a series of pieces exploring what lies beneath the surface of Tokyo. Hidden rivers, ancient artifacts and crumbling infrastructure are just a few of the discoveries he made during his reporting. And while it’s important to know how we’re going to manage these things as climate change — or more importantly, the possible flooding that comes with it — worsens, sometimes it’s just fascinating to learn about the world under our feet.

Hosted by Shaun McKenna and produced by Dave Cortez.

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Shaun McKenna 00:09

Welcome to Deep Dive from The Japan Times, I'm Shaun McKenna. After breaking records for high temperatures last year, everyone seems to be already talking about this year's summer as if it were the apocalypse. And, just a friendly PSA, Japanese authorities are suggesting you get your air conditioners in order now, as repair people are likely to be busy throughout July and August. Nobody likes commuting in the heat. But luckily, Tokyo and other major cities in Japan have underground passageways that can facilitate moving us from place to place. So if you don't know them yet, it's time to get familiar. On today's show, Japan Times feature writer Alex K.T. Martin will join us to discuss the world beneath our streets.

Dave Cortez 00:59

I’m going deep underground at the Oedo ticket gate, looking for Alex. Today, we're going to be exploring the Tokyo underground in its various forms. Morning, you been waiting long? Right on. Right on.

Shaun McKenna 01:16

Alex K.T. Martin, welcome back to Deep Dive.

Alex K.T. Martin 01:19

Thanks, Shaun.

Shaun McKenna 01:20

So we just heard a brief clip of our producer, Dave Cortez, meeting you 30 meters below sea level at Roppongi Station on the Toei Oedo Line in Tokyo. You, Dave and photographer Johan Brooks spent the day touring a few of the capital's underground passageways and tunnels. We'll be hearing audio clips of your day throughout the podcast. How many places did you go?

Alex K.T. Martin 01:41

Well, we visited five spread out locations in one day. Luckily, it wasn't too hot.

Shaun McKenna 01:47

OK, and this reporting trip was for the latest story in what ended up being a string of pieces, which, you didn't plan it that way, but they all have something to do with what's underneath Tokyo. The first piece was titled “Tracing Tokyo's hidden rivers,” in which you explored the network of small waterways that the city is built on. Then there was “The complications in digging up Tokyo's ancient past,” in that one, there were some ancient artifacts found under property owned by the ... British Embassy, was it?

Alex K.T. Martin 02:15

That's right.

Shaun McKenna 02:16

That was sold to developers, and you looked at the process that we have to go through upon such discoveries. And finally, your most recent was “Tokyo underground: Exploring what lies beneath the world's largest city,” and that's where I want to start.

Alex K.T. Martin 02:29

Sure thing.

Shaun McKenna 02:30

So you may have started your reporting day for this story in the depths of Roppongi Station, but the actual piece begins with a description of an older woman mopping up water leaking into the network of corridors underneath Asakusa Station. What's the place under Asakusa?

Alex K.T. Martin 02:46

Of the various locations I reported on the Asakusa Chikagai, or the Asakusa Underground Shopping Street, as it's called in English, is the it's the oldest surviving underground passageway of its kind. And you could really feel that when you were there.

Dave Cortez 03:01

I’ve just emerged into the underground in Asakusa. There is definitely a patina of age everywhere you look here. I'm looking at an old soba shop that's just encrusted with grime and time. There's all kinds of makeshift plastic tubing and sheeting to help guide the water leakage from the ceiling out of the walkway...

Alex K.T. Martin 03:32

So that underground shopping street was built back in 1955 and I spoke to the man whose family has been managing the passageway, his name is Katori-san. His grandfather originally took the lead in building the underground tunnel, and he wanted there to be a path to Sensoji temple from the station in case it rained. The facility was built to begin with, to connect the Ginza Line to the Nakamise Dori, the Nakamise Street that connects to Sensoji temple, and then gradually shops started developing. Initially, it was mostly clothing shops, cassette tape shops. Then at some point, eateries started coming in. The sewage system wasn't built to sort of accommodate restaurants, so that's one reason why they're having a really hard time now there are too many customers, or when too many shops are opening at the same time, the sewer gets stuck

Shaun McKenna 04:22

In that clip, you mentioned the sewer system getting stuck. Is that solely due to the underground establishments, or is it because of the aboveground ones as well?

Alex K.T. Martin 04:30

It doesn't have to do with the aboveground facilities. I think over half of the shops there are eateries, so the sewage system itself wasn't built to accommodate restaurants. So that's why, when they're all occupied and, you know, then the wastewater gets stuck and whatnot. And as of now, they don't really have the funds to make massive repairs, so it's sort of on the verge of potentially disappearing if something or someone doesn't come in and invest in it somehow.

Shaun McKenna 04:55

Oh right, when you say investment, do you mean private or public?

Alex K.T. Martin 04:59

Public I would think. So, Katori-san asked an expert, I think about a decade ago, to, whether they can make an assessment on how much refurbishing is necessary to fix up the place. And the estimate they gave him just for assessing the place was, go-sen man, which is 50 million yen. And actually repairing the place would probably cost 10 or 20 times that amount. So it's an exorbitant amount of money, which obviously nobody has. So the question is, you know, what's going to happen to this place? We don't know, however, my personal assumption is that the ward might have to come in at some point.

Shaun McKenna 05:39

Right, because it's such a big space. It's interesting to, you know, you think about small businesses in Japan, and then this is essentially like a small business, right? It's being operated that way, right?

Alex K.T. Martin 05:49

So, Katori-san, he manages the alleyway but he doesn't own it, so each of the tenants have the right to operate their business in their small plot of land, and there's a long historical reason for that. But the point is that it's not a unified front, like a business association or something like that.

Shaun McKenna 06:03

OK, maybe they need a business association.

Alex K.T. Martin 06:06

I mean, I'm not, I'm not quite sure. I'm not an expert on the history of the place. It's quite complicated, though, that's what I can say. So this place might be on its last leg, but it's still a place where you can see a part of Showa Era frozen in time. And the bigger takeaway is that even though train stations in Japan were always places where commerce developed, this was sort of the first iteration of these much larger underground hubs where a train station is at the center and a larger underground maze radiates out from there.

Shaun McKenna 06:32

Yeah. So to get to the office, I transfer through Ikebukuro Station, which is the third-busiest train station in Japan with nearly, I looked this up, 2.2 million commuters a day. For our listeners, Shibuya is No. 2, with 2.6 million people passing through each day, and Shinjuku Station sees almost 2.8 million and often wins the title of busiest train station in the world. So underneath Ikebukuro Station, it feels like, to me, at least, like a suburban mall? So you have flower shops and entrances to all the nearby department stores, there's like small eateries and cafes ... Uniqlos. It's really different from the older underground arcade you just described. It feels kind of downright luxurious compared to Asakusa.

Alex K.T. Martin 07:21

Right, so Ikebukuro’s underground probably looks a lot more like the one under Tokyo Station. And these kinds of places are, as you say, modern and fancy, but the thing of note with these places is that they are really, really big.

Dave Cortez 07:35

Let's see, Alex. I met you at 9 a.m. it's 10:15, and I've already got 7,000 steps on my little tracker. It's the benefit of the underground. It's healthier than you think.

Alex K.T. Martin 07:47

So Tokyo's underground shopping arcade and the passageway and all that connecting to the subways and whatnot, and the Shinkansen Bullet Train is apparently one of the biggest underground spaces in Japan. I think it was first developed in the late 1950s and that gradually expanded. So I think when I was at the Tokyo underground arcade that day doing research, I was unsure if it was the largest underground network in Tokyo, but yeah, I can confirm now that it is the largest in the capital.

Shaun McKenna 08:16

Actually, Dave mentioned in there that he had already had 7,000 steps. And, as an aside, I have a friend who's into health and fitness, Brad Pilon, a little shout out. And he was asking me about the Japanese diet and how people keep their weight down compared to North Americans. One of the things I told him was the commute.

Alex K.T. Martin 08:33


Shaun McKenna 08:34

Yeah, I can easily make my step count if I'm coming into the office to record just because of the transfer points and walking to and from the stations.

Alex K.T. Martin 08:43

Yeah, same here.

Shaun McKenna 08:44

So just hearing that from Dave in the clip might give people who haven't been to Japan a sense of what it's like visiting Tokyo in particular. Just be prepared to walk. T hat clip was from the mall under Tokyo Station, right?

Alex K.T. Martin 08:57

That's correct. So it's called Yaechika, and the name comes from the Yaesu area above it, and “chika” is Japanese for a basement.

Dave Cortez 09:04

I mean, all in all, the underground is actually kind of confusing. I mean, you're in one mall that has one name, and then you keep walking, and suddenly it's completely different branding and color scheme, and it has a different map on the wall. And so, you know, you're in a different place, and it's like, how does it all connect? Is there one map that kind of shows the entire width and breadth of it all? You know, you can easily just get lost.

Shaun McKenna 09:29

That's Dave echoing the plight of many a tourist — and local, if we're being honest. Alex, you wrote another story recently titled, “Why half of Japan's cities are at risk of disappearing in 100 years.” And you spoke to Kyoto University professor Tomoya Mori, who believes that the idea of cities will change due to depopulation. One of the reasons he cites is that we won't really need to go to a city, like to shop as often anymore, everything's moving online. Could this be something that might affect the underground malls in Tokyo?

Alex K.T. Martin 10:02

Yaechika, at least is doing fine, but the online shopping boom, as you know, which got a boost during the pandemic, means people are shopping at malls less frequently. But again, this isn't just a Japan problem. Overseas you're looking at these big suburban shopping malls losing tenants and trying to compete with online sites like Amazon.

Shaun McKenna 10:21

So no specific threat to these underground malls, then, that kind of isn't part of a greater issue in any case. Shifting back to the older underground spots, did you visit any other places like the one in Asakusa?

Alex K.T. Martin 10:34

Yeah, there are other relics out there still. I went to another one for the story that is near Ueno Station.

Dave Cortez 10:40

So Alex, there's underground in Ueno as well.

Alex K.T. Martin 10:43

That's right, beneath the Ameyoko Building, actually, is an underground market. Now it's mostly ethnic food shops, so you can buy spices, even meat, fish, pretty much anything you want. So I think a lot of ethnic food eateries, restaurant owners come here to sort of stock up on their own spices and whatnot that they need.

So Ueno’s this big entertainment hub in Tokyo, there was a huge black market right after the war, a lot of merchants coming in, selling stuff, a lot of workers from Tohoku, up north coming down to ... it was basically a gateway for folks coming from the north into Tokyo. So it was, you know, a thriving area. It still is. And under the station, apparently, was something called the Ueno Store. This was one of the first underground sort of shopping arcades that was ever built in Tokyo. This precedes the Asakusa shopping street, yeah. However, that's gone. Now, maybe, you know, traces of the tunnel is still around, maybe it's sort of refurbished into like just a regular passageway. But anyway, the arcade itself is gone now. However, if you go to the Ameya Yokocho alleyway, which is a very chaotic, crazy and fun sort of shopping street, very famous. I'm sure a lot of listeners have been there before. This building, called the Ameyoko building and underground is a ethnic sort of market. The shops there sort of kind of speak to the increase in immigrant communities in Tokyo, there are lots of stores that specialize in food products from across Asia that are often difficult to find in Japanese supermarkets, like pig's head, chicken feet, cow lungs, you know, live turtles and spices and condiments and fruit from Thailand, Vietnam, India, China and elsewhere.

Shaun McKenna 12:20

OK, yeah, I don't imagine 7-Eleven selling live turtles or cow lungs. Is that area also looking kind of, like, rough for wear? Like, does it look kind of dilapidated?

Alex K.T. Martin 12:31

I mean, compared to the Asakusa underground alleyway? No, but it is getting, you know, rather old.

Shaun McKenna 12:36

OK, so does that mean it's kind of going to face the same issues?

Alex K.T. Martin 12:40

That's a good question. Yeah, probably in the coming decades, it might sort of face a similar situation. And in terms of Asakusa, you know, one of the big concerns that Asakusa’s underground passageway, has is the worsening damage from bad weather. Shaun McKenna 12:56

Right, OK, and with, like, I guess, climate change, right? That's probably something they can expect more and more. So one of the effects of climate change Tokyo is concerned about is an increase in the occurrence and intensity of extreme precipitation, which could lead to flooding. This may come in the form of more frequent typhoons or as a result of heavier rainstorms, I guess?

Alex K.T. Martin 13:19

Right, they call them guerilla rainstorms.

Shaun McKenna 13:21

Guerilla rainstorms, right.

Alex K.T. Martin 13:24

Yeah, I think people are worried that, you know, the pipes in these underground shopping arcades may not be able to handle the amount of water, and there's a risk of flooding, obviously, that the undergrounds are going to have to deal with.

Shaun McKenna 13:33

Yeah. I mean, as it is, they're having a tough time with the underground sober shops.

Alex K.T. Martin 13:37

And you got to remember, like, millions of people use these places to get from line to line so that also causes massive disruptions. There's two subway systems in Tokyo, and together they cater to around 8 million people a day. And some of these lines are quite deep, as we said in the beginning, we went to the Oedo Line at Roppongi Station. One of its platforms is 42.3 meters underground, and going along with Dave's observations of his own step tracker trudging through the underground the pedometer manufacturer called Omron, they once tested how many steps it would take from the surface of the platform. You can actually see this on a YouTube clip that they produced. It took 640 steps and eight minutes and 10 seconds to climb 265 stairs over a distance of 300 meters, and that was enough to burn 1.7 grams of fat.

Shaun McKenna 14:25

I wonder how much fat you'd be burning if you had to swim out of there? Well, this kind of leads us back to this concern, flooding, appropriate for a rainy season — which I think we're finally feeling in Tokyo this week. But, we'll get even more waterlogged after a quick break.


If you're a regular reader of Alex's work, or have listened to him on this podcast before, you may be aware that throughout its history, Tokyo has gone through these cycles of destruction and reconstruction. There's this westernizing overhaul after the Meiji Restoration of the late 19th century, followed by the destruction caused by the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake that was followed by reconstruction, of course. And then World War II and its post war economic growth. So just keep that in mind. Alex, explain to us what ankyo are.

Alex K.T. Martin 15:25

So ankyo can be translated as culverts. The kanji are the kanji for dark or hidden combined with one that represents ditch or canal. So Tokyo was built on water when Tokugawa Ieyasu, when he founded the Tokugawa Shogunate back during the Edo Period, built the de facto capital around Edo Castle, currently where the Imperial Palace is. And he launched this really ambitious public works project. He basically created a system water routes from the inner and outer moats of the castle, which grew through existing rivers and landfill projects commenced, he increased the city’s landmass, and with that came like a grid-like system of canals.

Shaun McKenna 16:10

What were the canals used for?

Alex K.T. Martin 16:12

It was used for sewage, transportation, agriculture, washing ...

Shaun McKenna 16:18

So, pretty much everything.

Alex K.T. Martin 16:20

Yeah. But, then you know, significant changes to Tokyo's waterfront that came during the urban transformation of the Meiji Era, that's the time between 1868 and 1912, and that sort of accompanied the transition of the capital from Edo to Tokyo, as we know now. And then this was followed by the recovery from the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 that you mentioned before, and reconstruction efforts that commenced in the aftermath of World War II. And, you know, going back to the story about the ankyo or the culverts. so the biggest dynamic makeover in recent history in Tokyo came during the period of rapid economic growth in the 1950s and the 1960s, the post war sort of economic surge, basically. And the expansion really reached its peak in the run up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. That's when the city really embarked on this unprecedented infrastructure drive. It saw many small-and-medium sized rivers converted into culverts in the name of sewer maintenance, because they were really getting quite smelly, apparently, and hygienically, not, you know,

Shaun McKenna 17:23

Yeah, you're not washing your clothes in there anymore.

Alex K.T. Martin 17:27

Right, right, yeah. So they were sort of buried underground, covered up, and today, the network of water that once spread out like a web across Tokyo is mostly covered over. So these ankyo, many of them, don't really serve the same purposes that they did when they were rivers, but, you know, they're still used as sewage, underground sewage pipes and sewage systems, and they've also attracted a sort of a subculture ...

Shaun McKenna 17:50

Yeah, this leads us to the Ankyo Maniacs. So here they are introducing themselves.

[audio clip]

Alex K.T. Martin 18:01

So, Hideo Takayama is 59, he’s one half of Ankyo Maniacs. It's a two person exploration team, I guess. So he and his partner Nama Yoshimura, she's 46, they run a website, they offer lectures and guided tours and they co-authored books such as “Ankyo Maniakku!” and “Ankyo Paradaisu!” They're part of a growing subculture dedicated to tracing the paths of rivers that once crisscrossed Tokyo before disappearing as the city evolved into the slick metropolis we know now.

Shaun McKenna 18:34

I think what's great about these two is that it was like a little love story between them, right?

Alex K.T. Martin 18:39

So, Takayama San was going through a really tough period of his life about 20 years ago, I think. He was, you know, getting a divorce. He was having a tough time at work. He was feeling quite depressed, and just to sort of like, you know, change his mind, he would, you know, ride on his bike and just take tours around Tokyo. And then one day, he realized that the path that he liked to use when he was going on these bicycle excursions, used to be a river. So he began sort of observing these underground passageways and rivers and former rivers around his local neighborhoods, and gradually became sort of interested in this whole thing. And then eventually he meets Yoshimura-san who shared a similar passion in finding these traces of lost rivers.

Shaun McKenna 19:20

Yeah, they united over the kind of lost river. And I like that he kind of identified with the rivers.

Alex K.T. Martin 19:27

Yeah, he gets really philosophical. So he really sort of sympathizes with these rivers.

[audio clip]

So, you know, they're underground ...

Shaun McKenna 19:39

They're forgotten, but still useful.

Alex K.T. Martin 19:41

Still useful. I mean, not all of them, some of them are just completely paved over but, and, you know, people just walk over them without even realizing that they used to be these nice rivers.

[audio clip]

When he was feeling really down, he felt something in common with these ankyo.

Shaun McKenna 20:04

Like a kinship. How do you find these ankyo now?

Alex K.T. Martin 20:09

So, they call it the “ankyo sign.” That's a term they created, the Ankyo Maniacs. The most obvious signs include the ruins of old bridges and dikes, also metal car barriers that prevent the cars from entering a path.

Shaun McKenna 20:24

OK, they're kind of U-shaped, metal barriers sticking out of the ground, and you gotta walk around them to continue on your way, yeah?

Alex K.T. Martin 20:30

Right. The point being, you know, because there's space underground, you don't want, like, heavy cars to come over them, right? Also, businesses that dispose of large amounts of wastewater were also frequently located by rivers, right? So like public sentō baths, I love them. That's an ankyo sign. There's swimming pools, fishing ponds, dry cleaners, tofu shops and printing presses. These are signs that you know there might have been a river or a ditch, or, you know, some kind of waterway around there before.

Shaun McKenna 21:02

So if you see, like, a concentration of these businesses in kind of a row, then there's a good chance that behind them used to be a river.

Alex K.T. Martin 21:09

That's right, and these rivers and tributaries, they also function as boundaries between wards and districts, so oftentimes, you know, they still mark the lines between jurisdictions.

Shaun McKenna 21:19

Oh, right, yeah. After reading about this, actually, I started noticing the signs of ankyo everywhere in my neighborhood. I think it's like one of those things you can't not see after you're aware of it, like, I guess the Matrix, I don't know. For those who are interested in reading about Alex's own little ankyo hunt. That article is the same one we mentioned at the top of the show, so, Tracing Tokyo's hidden rivers,” and I'll put a link to it in the show notes. He kind of goes on his own hunt for the ankyo in his neighborhood. In the first block of the podcast, we talked about the dangers of climate change, specifically the guerrilla rains that might cause flooding in Tokyo. Are these ankyo a part of any threat to the city when it comes to rising waters?

Alex K.T. Martin 22:02

No, no. I mean, they've been sort of appropriated into the sewage network, so they're actually helping when it comes to protecting the sea from heavy rain.

Shaun McKenna 22:09

Ah, right, OK. Well, speaking of protecting the city, for your Tokyo underground story, you also visited the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel.

Dave Cortez 22:20

All right, Alex, where are we going now?

Alex K.T. Martin 22:21

So we're heading towards the, in Japanese they call the shutoken gaikaku hōsuiro, popularly known as the underground cathedral, or it's basically one of the world's biggest underground reservoirs made to prevent flooding in major rivers coming into Tokyo. It's a massive facility. It costs about ¥230 billion to create. It's one of the world's largest flood water diversion facilities. It's basically an underground river, pretty much an empty river that they fill up when the overground rivers are approaching flooding levels. It was completed in 2006 and it was a decade-long, or even longer, project, massive sort of infrastructure, digging. It's basically the region's answer to the growing dangers posed by extreme weather. And it lies in the outskirts of Kasukabe, which is a city outside Saitama Prefecture.

Dave Cortez 23:11

Why did they build it way out here? I know that this is part of a floodplain as well, but ...

Alex K.T. Martin 23:15

Because the location runs by a river which eventually flows down into Tokyo. So if something happens upstream, they want to prevent it from flooding way up here, rather than having it break water down in Tokyo.

Dave Cortez 23:29

And that's why we're hyperventilating, because they really built this thing way out in the middle of nowhere ...

Alex K.T. Martin 23:32

It's designed to suck in water from small-and medium-sized rivers in northern Tokyo, like the Kuramatsu and the Naka rivers and to direct it to the much larger Edo River. So if you can picture this, it's a series of five enormous, 70 meter deep and about 30 meter wide shafts that are used to collect rain and flood water from these rivers, right? And as they fill up, they spill into this immense horizontal tunnel that runs 50 meters deep, and all this spans about 6.3 kilometers across the countryside, and this is all underground, and as you approach the place, you wouldn't even have a clue that this massive thing is underneath you.

Dave Cortez 24:12

So the facility is essentially one large football field ringed with trees with a two-to-three story control center on one end and a small little concrete bunker on the other, which is the entrance down into the cistern, and the middle of the football field is essentially covering what is the underground water collection facility.

Shaun McKenna 24:36

What's it like once you get inside?

Alex K.T. Martin 24:38

So we visited one of these shafts, which connects to this massive tunnel or cathedral, and it was pretty mind blowing.

Dave Cortez 24:54

Whoa! Just waiting for my eyes to adjust. Cavernous doesn't even begin to describe ...

Alex K.T. Martin 25:03

It's this huge concrete space. It's gray and dark everywhere. There's a huge open shaft on one end and a seemingly unending Hall of Columns stretching out the other side.

Dave Cortez 25:14

Continuing to go down a winding set of stairs. The temperature is dropping, an absolutely gargantuan space. You have to say, if I have to give you the best idea of what you're looking at, definitely looks like the scene in Lord of the Rings, where the fellowship is running through the Mines of Moria, away from the orcs, and the camera pans back to the room filled with colonnades. It's incredibly reminiscent of that, long stretches of pillar after pillar.

Alex K.T. Martin 25:48

So you come in first to the big tunnel area, but then when they take you to the 70 meter shaft and ask you to look down, I'll be honest with you, I got a little squeamish, and I just let Dave and Johan, the photographer, walk a precarious-looking catwalk. Yeah, they said a space shuttle can fit inside the deep shaft. And yeah, I can, I can believe that. So it's an engineering marvel, really. All in name of future flood control. They've had their fair share of floods in it's nearly 20 years of existence. But the guide we were talking to said that they do expect more severe storms and floods to really put the system to the test in the coming years.

Shaun McKenna 26:26

Right, you were saying that it cost ¥230 billion, so I guess they're kind of getting their money back, right, by this increase in inclement weather.

Alex K.T. Martin 26:37

That's right. I think so far, based on their estimates, they say they've so far mitigated around ¥150 billion worth of flood or potential flood flooding damage, right? So, you know, considering it costs ¥230 billion to create it, they are sort of approaching a break even point.

Shaun McKenna 26:54

Yeah, from Johan’s photos, it really does look like a rather impressive place, and it's open to tourists as well, right?

Alex K.T. Martin 27:00

That's correct, yeah.

Shaun McKenna 27:02

So one of those off-the-beaten-path spots that will give you some great Instagram content, I'm sure. Read Alex's piece. Again, that's “Tokyo underground: Exploring what lies beneath the world’s largest city,” and then head out to Saitama. Alex, thanks for coming on Deep Dive. And thanks Dave for the sound clips.

Alex K.T. Martin 27:19

Thanks, Shaun.

Shaun McKenna 27:25

That brings us to the end of another episode of Deep Dive from

The Japan Times, we thank you for spending time with us and supporting our journalism by listening. Elsewhere in the news, you’re going to hear about a lot of politics with the Tokyo governor race starting up, particularly as the incumbent, Yuriko Koike, is squaring off against the popular and singular named politician Renho — both women on Tuesday kicked things off by promising to bolster child-rearing support in Tokyo to help combat the declining birth rate. Follow The Japan Times for more coverage on the election, which is set for July 7.

Deep Dive is produced by Dave Cortez, our outgoing music is by Oscar Boyd, and our theme music is by the Japanese musician LLLL. I’ve been Shaun McKenna, podtsukaresama.