In many cities worldwide, rain is regarded as a nuisance to be quickly drained away. But not in Tokyo, where, thanks to a retired civil servant, people see rainwater as a precious commodity to be captured and used for daily life.
Makoto Murase has pioneered the recycling of urban rainwater (“sky water” as he calls it) through a system of collection tanks in buildings and is now a global campaigner for reusing this valuable resource.
When rainwater flows into the sewers, it turns into a flood. If you collect it, it becomes a resource.
Following his retirement from the Sumida City (part of Tokyo) local government in 2009, Murase made rainwater harvesting his life’s work. Largely thanks to his efforts, more than 1,000 buildings in Tokyo now recycle rainwater, mainly for non-drinking uses such as gardens and flushing toilets. In Sumida City alone, the total number reached 600 in 2015. Tens of thousands of people have benefited. As Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Sky Water Harvesting, Murase established a similar organization in Bangladesh where he is seeking to distribute low-tech sky water harvesting technology to help solve the water crisis. A symbol of his achievements is the Tokyo Skytree, the highest broadcasting tower in the world and one of Japan’s biggest rainwater utilization systems.
Buildings in Tokyo that now recycle rainwater
Tonnes of water capable of being held in the Tokyo Skytree storage tank