Friday, March 4, 2016

Visit to Shimokubo Dam, Gunma Prefecture (March 03, 2016)

Hi everyone, this is Abdul Moiz (アブドゥルムイズ). This is my first blog as a part of the Kawasaki Research Group, so first allow me to introduce myself. I am a 1st year Masters student at the University of Tokyo. Originally, I am from Pakistan and completed my Bachelors Degree there, and then I started my Civil Engineering Graduate Degree Program at the University of Tokyo in October 2015 and have been a member of the Kawasaki Research Group ever since then.
In fact, this is the first time in my life that I will write a blog, so I will try my best and hope that the readers find it interesting.

I’ll be writing about my visit to Shimokubo Dam with Kawasaki Research Group and some delegates from Myanmar and Indonesia, arranged by JWA (Japan Water Agency).

We were supposed to meet up at Yayoi campus of Tokyo University at 7:45 AM which was a little bit early for me but luckily I was able to get there on time and so did all the other members of our group who participated in this trip. We were soon joined by three delegates from Myanmar as well, Ms. Win Win, Ms. Htay Htay and Ms. Khon. All was set and we were ready to leave by 8:00 AM in a car driven by Dr. Kawasaki. We were to travel from Tokyo University to the outskirts of Gunma Prefecture, which is right next to the Saitama Prefecture. Finally after two hours we made it to the designated meeting point where we boarded the micro bus arranged by JWA.

A group photo at the designated meeting point
After a few minutes of waiting, the micro bus finally arrived and without further ado all of us got on, ready to reach the Shimokubo dam. Here, we were also joined by three delegates from Indonesia. It took nearly 20 minutes for us to reach the dam site.

First we visited the operation office, where on the first floor I was surprised to see a huge gallery of coloring pages which were prepared by students from the schools in the local areas in competitions arranged from time to time. I was not able to capture the whole gallery but maybe this picture can give an idea of how big it was.

Coloring page gallery at the 1st floor of the operation office
The coloring pages were based off some famous manga about dams. I don’t know its name, but I think it is a good way to attract the attention of the younger generation.

Then we were briefed about the various features of the Shimokubo Dam by Mr. Ichihara including some examples over the past extreme events where it proved to be a very important structure.

Conference room at the operation office

Then we visited the monitoring room for the dam site. Everything was monitored from this single room.

Monitoring room a the operation office
A telecommunication device was installed at the top of the building for communication over a secure network. The flower like steel strips were fixed around the telecom device to prevent it from being struck by lightning.

View from the top was very beautiful

A group photo at the top of the operation office with the delegates from Myanmar and Indonesia

Before going to the dam site we stopped by for lunch. Luckily, the lunch menu was Udon Noodles and Vegetable Tempura, everything vegetarian (which was important because I can only eat Halal Food).

Finally, after lunch we visited the dam site.

A view from the top of the dam
We took the elevator down into the dam structure.

Inspection facility inside the dam body

One of the most interesting monitoring devices inside the dam structure was a normal plumb line and a reverse plumb line, which were used to keep checks on major deformations in the dam structure. Of course the normal plumb line behaves like an ordinary one, fixed at the top and suspended under gravity at the bottom. But it was the first time that I saw a reverse plumb line, it was fixed from the bottom with the plumb suspended in a tank with oil with the string in tension under the buoyant force instead of gravity force.
Normal plumb line
Reverse Plumb Line
The inside of the dam was connected by these tunnels for monitoring purposes.

Thank God we had an elevator here. One can imagine how deep into the structure we were from these steps.

Finally, the tunnel system lead us outside to the downstream side of the structure.

Downstream side of the dam
The downstream side was very beautiful and a popular spot among tourists.

Many rocks rich with minerals were present on the downstream side

Each of these stones were given names by the local people ages ago, too many to even count
One final group photo
Finally, it was time to head back. It was a wonderful and unique experience to visit the Shimokubo Dam.

Thank you for reading.

Abdul Moiz