Often mistaken for being part of the nearby Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, this unusual incineration plant and sludge center will grab your attention from far away, especially if you are driving to and from the Kansai International Airport along the coastal highway.
The Maishima Incineration Plant was built in 2001 to tackle the city’s increasing waste, as well as to promote environmental awareness and conservation. It was therefore no mere coincidence that the late maestro Friedensreich Hundertwasser, also an avid environmentalist, was enlisted to design the plant’s facade.
The renowned Austrian-born New Zealand artist and architect is known for his brightly colored creations filled with spirals and organic shapes (he famously rejected straight lines). The waste disposal plant, unconventional canvas as it may be, is no exception. The exterior is wonderfully colorful and whimsical, complete with a towering gold chimney stack and rooftop gardens.
Hundertwasser designed the plant to pique the curiosity of visitors in order to get them thinking about how waste is affecting the planet. And it seems to be working; the garbage plant receives around 12,000 visitors every year. Though many are accidental—thinking the magical-looking building is part of the Universal Studios attraction nearby—this hidden gem is well worth a visit in its own right.
Know Before You Go
Easiest access is by car or taxi. Tours of the plant and office are provided for free with advance reservations. Unfortunately, the magic stops once you are inside. It is, after all, a waste disposal plant.