Tetrapod --
Near Tappi Saki, Aomori (Photo: Mr_M_Montgomery)

Hit the beach anywhere in Japan, and you are likely to see endless piles of tetrapods -- enormous four-legged concrete structures intended to prevent coastal erosion. By some estimates, more than 50% of Japan抯 35,000-kilometer (22,000-mi) coastline has been altered with tetrapods and other forms of concrete. Critics, who blame the tetrapod invasion on decades of excessive government spending designed to bolster the construction industry, argue that in addition to posing a danger to swimmers, surfers and boaters, tetrapods actually accelerate beach erosion by disrupting the natural processes that shape the coastal environment. Meanwhile, others have developed an aesthetic appreciation of the tetrapod landscape, as evidenced by a host of stunning Japanese tetrapod photos on Flickr.

Tetrapod --
Location unknown (Photo: saksak)

Tetrapod --
Location unknown (Photo: f l u x)

Tetrapod --
Kawasaki (Photo: gullevek)

Tetrapod --
Kobe (Photo: Joshua Richley)

Tetrapod --
Hamamatsu, Shizuoka (Photo: seotaro)

Tetrapod --
Yakushima (Photo: TommyOshima)

Tetrapod --
River bank, Shikoku (Photo: kodama)

Tetrapod --
Amarube (Photo: shikihan)

Tetrapod --
Tetrapod molds -- Location unknown (Photo: Toru Aihara)

Tetrapod --
Location unknown (Photo: electricnude)

Tetrapod --
Location unknown (Photo: takay)

Tetrapod --
Location unknown (Photo: saksak)

[Images: Flickr photos tagged "Tetrapod" & "Tetrapods"//Further reading: Japan Times, Wikipedia]