All About Japan

Walk Undersea Between Two Japanese Islands

| Fukuoka , Yamaguchi

Kyushu is an island full of interesting sights, from historic castles to gorgeous hot springs and natural landscapes. But as a separate island from the Japanese mainland of Honshu, which holds major urban centers like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima, most people have to access Kyushu by plane, boat or... an underwater tunnel!

The Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel, that is, which runs between Shimonoseki City in Yamaguchi Prefecture (Honshu) and Moji Ward of Kitakyushu City in Fukuoka Prefecture (Kyushu).

The tunnel is actually a part of National Highway 2. The highway divides into two tunnels that run beneath the Kanmon Straits. The upper tunnel is for cars to pass through while the lower tunnel is for pedestrians or people walking with bicycles or scooters.

The sign above should read “Open Hours,” as it would take way less than 14 hours for most people to pass through 780 meters (0.48 miles).

Those who want to take a bike through will also have to pay a ¥20 (US$0.18) fee, but regular pedestrians can go through for free.

One writer from SoraNews24, Masanuki Sunakoma, made the unique journey starting from the Kyushu side. Being a part of a national highway, the entrance had that conservative, government-mandated aesthetic to it. However, this year also marks the tunnel’s 60th anniversary, so some paper fish were strung up for some extra flare.

At the entrance were two elevators, one of which took Masanuki 60 meters (197 feet, or about 18 stories) down.

As far as tunnels go, this one really managed to keep the eeriness to a minimum. The walls and ceiling were painted vibrant shades of blue and the 4-meter-wide (13-feet-wide) path itself was painted up just like a highway.

The tunnel was very quiet, which would make sense since Masanuki was walking along the ocean floor. It also had a kind of outer space-like atmosphere. It felt as if the long, straight path was a vacuum sucking him towards an unknown presence.

After some walking, Masanuki reached the border between Yamaguchi and Fukuoka prefectures. Since they are completely separated by water, this is probably the only place where a person can physically touch the demarcation.

Also, in honor of the anniversary, a special poster featuring a doe-eyed pufferfish (a Yamaguchi delicacy) and octopus was hung. There was also a multi-language information poster, suggesting a lot of foreign tourists visit here.

Finally, Masanuki had made it to the island of Honshu. On each side of the tunnel was a stamp, and by collecting both he could receive a special certificate saying he made the journey.

In the city of Shimonoseki there were statues of legendary fighters Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune and Taira-no-Tomomori representing each side of the Battle of Dannoura, a major naval battle that took place here nearly 1,000 years ago. It is said that the souls of those who perished in the fighting can be seen in the crabs that inhabit these waters.

There was a lot to learn on this side of the Kanmon Predestrian Tunnel, but it was getting late, so Masanuki decided to head back under the sea towards Kyushu.

When he emerged in Moji Ward, he headed to the visitor center to get his special certificate. Much to his surprise he got an extra special 60th anniversary certificate.

To read up on how Masanuki celebrated his wondrous achievement of going through the tunnel and the location of Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel, be sure to read the full story from SoraNews24!

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