The Making of Tetrapods

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In my April 15 column in the Japan Times, I wrote about “tetrapods,” the four-legged wave-breaking concrete structures you see all up and down the coast of Japan. In the column, I explained that these huge structures are made on-site by pouring concrete into leased molds, like the ones in the photo below.


For a nice series of photos showing the making of tetrapods in more detail, take a look at this blog.

Meanwhile, a company called Maniapparel offers a humorous series of tetrapod clothing….


…and grey felt stuffed tetrapods for the home.


Unfortunately, the company doesn’t sell through online vendors that are relatively easy to navigate with limited Japanese. If you can manage in Japanese, drop an email to Maniapparel at You can also order the stuffed toys from Village Vanguard.

Finally, a well-deserved toast to the clever blogger who used the same mold concept to make tetrapod ice cubes. I want this person on my team.


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6 Responses to The Making of Tetrapods

  1. Allan Murphy says:

    Have often wondered about these eyesores. (Not bad as ice cubes though.) I read somewhere that 60% or so of Japan’s coastline is manmade in one way or another. Great detective work finding the name of the bridge!

  2. Wow! I didn’t even think these had names! Ha ha :)

  3. Dennis Kitch says:

    How effective were the Tetrapods in the Tsunami?

  4. Tetrapods are awful eyesores that have almost no effect in stopping tsunamis and can be a various serious hazard to recreational beach users- particularly surfers.
    The ultimate “dango” construction project. Yes, making and placing them produces jobs, but there are many more environmentally benign or positive projects that could also create jobs.

  5. Dear Alice!
    Just as a footnote, the tetrapods used to protect the shore in Kuno, Shizuoka City (especially because of the many strawberry fields along the shoreline) cost 700,000,000 yen every year to maintain!
    Just to concur with knaturalbuilder!

  6. where can I get the metal molds for tetrapods. Are there any in UK

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