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Visit Hundertwasser's waste incineration plant!Report on Famous Architecture in Osaka


Did you know about the colorful, palace-like building at the entrance of Maishima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay?

This unique architecture, created by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000), is actually a waste incineration plant.

In this article, we will introduce the highlights of the most beautiful waste incineration plant in the world, Maishima Facility, along with how to visit it and nearby tourist attractions, as well as gourmet spots.




What is Osaka's waste incineration plant, the Maishima Facility?

The Maishima plant catches the eye from a distance. It is not widely known that the world-famous artist Hundertwasser worked on it, and that you can tour the interior for free. It is one of Osaka's best-known buildings for those in the know.

Main entrance to the Maishima plant.



Access to the Maishima plant

The closest stations to the Maishima Plant by public transport are Sakurajima Station on the JR Yumesaki Line and Cosmosquare Station on the Osaka Metro Chuo Line. At each station, transfer to a bus for a 10-minute ride. If you get off at the 'Kankyo Shisetsu Kumiai Mae' stop, the Maishima Plant is right in front of you.


Nearby are some of Osaka's most popular tourist attractions, including Universal Studios Japan and Kaiyukan, renowned as one of the world's largest aquariums. The artificial island of Yumeshima is right next door and will be the venue for the Osaka Kansai Expo to be held in 2025. The area is expected to attract more and more attention ahead of the World Expo.




Hundertwasser's architecture, with its love of natural beauty

The Maishima Plant was built in 2001 to a design by Hundertwasser, a well-known artist with an international reputation for environmental protection. Its official name is the Osaka Wide-area Environmental Facilities Association Maishima Plant.


It is characterized by a curved design that seems to merge with nature, and a colorful color scheme that is inspired by fire and water. The massive structure, which has two basement floors and seven floors above ground and covers approximately 17,000 square meters, is equipped with waste incineration and bulky waste shredding facilities. Currently, the outdoor green space and the second, third and fifth floors are open to visitors.




Who is Hundertwasser, the world-famous artist who designed the Maishima plant?

Model presented by Hundertwasser.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1928, and remained famous for his numerous masterpieces until his death in 2000.

His real name was Friedrich Staudwasser, and he began working under the name Hundert ('hundred' in German) Wasser ('water' in German) at the age of 21. Married to a Japanese woman, he had close ties to Japan, and his paintings were sometimes signed "Hyakusui"(which means hundreds of waters) in Japanese.

Walls and handrails are also designed with curved lines.

Based on the idea that "there are no artificial straight lines in nature", Hundertwasser's architecture often features curves and swirling patterns that harmonize with nature. It is also characterized by its rich use of color and decorative elements, such as fire and water. His masterpieces include the Hundertwasserhaus, a residential complex in Vienna, and the Kunsthaus Wien, a museum.


He designed two waste incineration plants in his lifetime. The first was the Spittelau incineration plant in Vienna, and the second was the Maishima plant in Japan. Although they are generally associated with a negative image of waste incineration plants, their outstanding designs are so attractive that they can change the whole image of the plant itself.





Feel Hundertwasser's philosophy! Here's what to look out for at the Maishima plant

Those who see the Maishima plant for the first time will be overwhelmed by its unique appearance, which resembles a theme park.This is the result of Hundertwasser's sincere love of nature.



Architecture in harmony with nature

Hundertwasser was of the view that "when you build a building, you destroy nature, so you plant greenery in its place".

The Maishima plant also has a lot of greenery planted, including promenades, green areas, external walls and rooftops, showing that it was built with the aim of coexisting with nature.

More than 20 years after its opening, the plants and trees already seem to have become an integral part of the architecture.



All different shaped windows and columns.

The appearance of the Maishima plant is designed with countless windows and columns, none of which are the same. This reflects Hundertwasser's belief that 'nothing in nature has the same shape or color'.




Blue chimneys stretching straight up into the sky

120 m high chimney. There is a spiral staircase leading to the top inside (not open to the public).

The concept of the Maishima plant is "a symbol of the fusion of technology, art and ecology". One of the facilities that represents this concept is the huge blue chimney with a golden sphere. The chimney is designed with a variety of windows on the outer wall and rises high like a tower, but the smoke is discharged after appropriate treatment of the exhaust gasses produced by waste incineration.


When burning waste, toxic substances such as dioxin are produced, but complete combustion at temperatures of 900°C or higher suppresses the production of these substances, reducing them to a value (0.00015) far below the discharge standard1 (*) and releasing them in a detoxified form.

In addition to its attractive appearance, this chimney, which circulates cleansed gasses back into the atmosphere, combines art and sustainability in a facility.

(*) Unit: ng-TEQ/m3N


This is the chimney that was mentioned when we asked the plant manager, Shunichi Nakamura, who kindly granted us an interview this time, about his favorite spot at the Maishima plant.

The unique views that can be seen as the seasons, weather and time change, such as fresh greenery growing in the area and the moon shining down on the chimneys, are said to be fascinating. The variety of daily expressions may be a unique attraction of Hundertwasser's nature-loving architecture.







The huge waste treatment plant has a capacity of 900 tonnes per day!

Giant cranes lifting rubbish from the rubbish pit.

The Maishima Plant is one of six plants that handle the treatment and disposal of waste from the cities of Osaka, Yao, Matsubara and Moriguchi. It is one of the largest waste treatment facilities in the country.

During the tour, visitors can closely look at the huge pit, which can hold up to 15,000㎡ of rubbish, and see how a crane with a six-meter diameter transports the rubbish.

Here are some of the highlights of the waste treatment facility that we learned about during the tour.



Operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without a break!

Crane inspection and maintenance scene

The first thing that is surprising is that the waste management facilities are in operation without interruption (except for planned shutdowns, such as routine inspections). Even in the middle of the night, when people are asleep, staff continue to operate and manage the facility.

Collected waste is incinerated at temperatures exceeding 900°C. By continuing to burn the waste, the cost of combustion is eliminated and the environment is protected for stable and sustainable waste disposal.




Fusion of state-of-the-art systems and human know-how.

Central control room for system control.

There are various processes involved in the disposal of waste. In oversize waste crushing and treatment facilities, waste is crushed and metals are separated and collected. In waste incineration plants, the waste is moved by crane and burnt to ash. All these operations, which are essential for waste disposal, are now computer-controlled, but even with the most advanced systems in place, the plant staff still need to monitor and adjust them manually in order to maintain burning at temperatures above 900 degrees Celsius. Maintenance and inspections of the equipment are also carried out by plant staff, and it is impressive to see how the latest systems and human knowledge and know-how are fused together to operate the huge waste incineration plant.




Circular economy that generates electricity, not just waste disposal.

Lighting in the exhibition space is also powered by on-site electricity generation.

Waste incineration plants do more than simply burn waste to ash. The energy generated by burning waste generates approximately 100 million kWh of electricity per year. This is equivalent to the amount of electricity used by about 30,000 ordinary households.

The electricity used in the plant is also generated, and the plant practices a circular economy by selling extra electricity to generate revenue.

Furthermore, incineration of waste is not the mainstream way of disposing of waste worldwide, with landfill, recycling and composting being adopted in other countries. For this reason, many visitors from overseas are surprised by the system of burning waste for disposal. It may be interesting to use a tour of the plant as an opportunity to look at waste disposal systems from around the world.





How can I visit the Maishima plant?

To visit the Maishima plant, take a free tour or an open day. The following is an introduction to how to apply for each.


Observation tours

The Maishima plant accepts tours for individuals and groups (10 or more people). To visit, you need to register a reservation at least 10 days in advance via the application website below.

Application website

Dates and times available for visits

  • Monday to Saturday (except Sundays, public holidays and New Year holidays)

  • Three times a day (10:00, 13:00 and 15:00)

  • The tour takes about 90 minutes.

Notes.

  • You may visit with other groups or individuals.

  • As a rule, the inbound tourist should make the booking through a travel agent.



Open Day

There are three open days a year when anyone can freely look around the tour route without making a reservation (free admission). This is a day where visitors can enjoy a tour of the facility while having fun, including a ride in a rubbish truck, a photo opportunity and exclusive events.


For information and updates on the next event, click here.




Maishima Marché, a gourmet spot where you can easily drop in.

There are many leisure facilities on the west side of Maishima, including sports facilities and BBQ areas. Located at the gateway to these is the outdoor complex Maishima Marché.


In addition to the permanent shops Huli Huli (fried chicken, fried food, bento boxes, drinks, etc.) and PROSSIMO ( ice cream), kitchen cars are also available for a limited time. From sweets to street food, visitors can enjoy a variety of gourmet treats from time to time.


Huli Huli's karaage, made from carefully selected chicken meat from Kyushu, comes in two varieties: thigh meat and bone meat. Recommended for a quick lunch are the KARAAGE bento and KARAAGE curry bento, which include crispy fried chicken on the outside and juicy rice on the inside, and the ginger-yaki bento, which uses Miyazaki Prefecture's brand pork.




Cafe & Bar LIBER, where you can enjoy real charcoal-grilled steaks.

Breakfast menus can be enjoyed from 7am on an irregular basis.

This restaurant is located in front of JR Sakurajima Station, one of the nearest stations to the Maishima plant.


The restaurant is located in the Rebel Hotel at Universal Studios Japan, and its signature dish is charcoal-grilled steak, which is slowly grilled in a stone oven. You can enjoy the real charcoal-grilled beef steak course (with salad, bread or rice and a soft drink) or the easy one-plate lunch (with bread or rice and a soft drink).


Charcoal-grilled beef steak course

Other attractive offerings on the sweets menu include gelato supervised by Asia's first gelato world champion and parfaits made with seasonal fruit. The restaurant is recommended for both lunch and café time.





Enjoy more in Osaka! Hundertwasser's famous architecture

Hundertwasser's architecture that can be seen in Japan is concentrated in Osaka*. If you have come all the way to Osaka, it would be a good idea to visit.


(*) Outside Osaka, Hundertwasser's work '21st Century Countdown Clock' is located in Akasaka, Tokyo.




Maishima Sludge Centre

Appearance of the Maishima Sludge Centre, which is very similar to the Maishima plant.

The Maishima Sludge Centre, built right next to the Maishima Plant, is a facility for processing sludge generated from wastewater. The appearance of the building is very similar to that of the Maishima Plant, making it look like a twin building.

The entrance hall on the ground floor and the green areas around the building are open to the public and can be visited freely without a reservation. Tours of the interior of the building require prior registration for reservations. See Website for more information.

A highlight is the display in the entrance hall. Visitors can see architectural sketches and drawings by Hundertwasser, photographs of the building as it was designed, and other valuable documents.


Architectural drawings and other documents are displayed in the cylindrical space seen in the center.



Kids Plaza Osaka

Kids Plaza Osaka is Japan's first full-scale museum for children. Through exhibitions and workshops that families can enjoy together, it offers children the opportunity to experience a variety of craftsmanship and to come into contact with society, culture and science.


Children's Town, designed by Hundertwasser, is the only indoor artwork of its kind in Japan. It combines maze-like corridors, suspension bridges and slides to create a space where children can freely move and play.




Using art as a gateway to rethink the environment and daily life

We all make rubbish in our daily lives, but rarely do we get the chance to see how it is disposed of. Hundertwasser's strange and beautiful waste incineration plant is filled with the ideas of an artist who loves nature. Once you visit, you will be fascinated by the architecture, but you will also be inspired to rethink waste and environmental issues. How about spending a holiday thinking about the environment and daily life while savouring the art?




Basic information

※Information as of October 2023. Please check the official website for the latest information.


Maishima Plant

Address

1-2-48,Hokkoushirazu 1-chome, Konohana-ku, Osaka

Tel

06-6463-4153

Visiting hours

weekdays 10:00, 13:00 and 15:00 * Advance booking required.

Website



Maishima Marché

Address

2-1-93 Hokkoryokuchi, Konohana-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture, Japan

Tel

06-4256-8889

Opening hours

Opening hours depend on the shop. For details, please check the official website.

Closed

During the year-end and New Year holidays and some irregular holidays.

Website



Cafe & Bar LIBER

Address

1F LIBER HOTEL AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN, 1-1-35 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku, Osaka, Osaka.

Tel

06-6462-2222 (Restaurant telephone number 10:00~19:00)

Opening hours

  • sales 11:30-22:00

  • In-store dining 11:30-22:00 (last order 21:30)

Closed

No holidays

Website



Maishima Sludge Center

Address

2-2-7, Hokkoshirazu, Konohana-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture, Japan.

Tel

​06-6460-2830

Opening hours for visits

9:00-17:00 (entrance area only)

Closed

Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays

Note

prior application is required for a tour inside the facility. For more information, see the official website.

Website


Kids Plaza Osaka

Address

2-1-7 Ogimachi, Kita-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture

Tel

​06-6311-6601

Opening hours

9:30-17:00 (last entry 45 minutes before closing).

Closed

  • 2nd and 3rd Mondays (or the following day in case the Monday is a public holiday).

  • August: 4th Monday.

  • Year-end and New Year holidays (28 Dec - 2 Jan)

  • Temporary closures.​

Website


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