Warehouse G

Holes To Nowhere

Mystery Tunnels Under Tokyo


By James Donahue


For years we have been intrigued by reports of mystery tunnels that seem to lead to nowhere deep under the Earth. The latest story, from The Japan Times, is in a review of a popular book by Japanese author Shun Akiba titled: "Imperial City Tokyo: Secret of a Hidden Underground Network."


Akiba's book identifies "hundreds of kilometers of tunnels under Tokyo whose purpose is unknown and whose very existence is denied," the story said. Yet his book, a best seller since its publication in 2002, is already in its fifth edition.


In spite of the popularity of the book, Akiba strangely finds himself mysteriously blackballed by the Japanese media. He is not getting coverage about his book. Attempts to have free lance stories published, even from Baghdad amid the Iraq war, are turned away.


"This is very strange because he has a great story -- evidence of a network of tunnels and possibly an underground city beneath Tokyo that the public is totally unaware of," the article said. Akiba believes there is a secret conspiracy to silence him and he doesn't know why.


He said he began his investigation of the mystery tunnels after finding an old map of Tokyo subway tunnels in a secondhand bookstore. The map didn't match the newer ones that showed two subways crossing. In the old map they were parallel.


When Akiba began looking for the old engineering plans, he said responses from official channels were "defensive and non-cooperative.


During his research he found this inconsistency to be the first of seven riddles. The others include a secret underground complex, a pre-war map showing a large empty space surrounded by paddy fields, and evidence that at least three mystery subway lines operated in ancient tunnels that existed before known public subways came into existence.


The author claims to have uncovered a secret code that reveals a complex network of tunnels unknown to the general public. "Every city with a historic subterranean transport system has secrets," he said."In London, for example, some lines are near the surface and others very deep, for no obvious reason."


Riding the Ginza subway from Suehirocho to Kanda, Akiba says he has observed many mysterious tunnels leading away from the main track, yet no such routes can be found on the subway maps. Another mystery tunnel can be seen on the subway ride from Kasumigaseki to Kokkai-gijidomae.


At Tameike-sanno on the Ginza Line, the first basement level is closed off, for official use only. In the toilet on basement level 2 there can be found a door leading to basement level 1. But Akiba says the door is locked.


The book also examines three large buildings in Hibiya that share an enormous underground car park. He believes the cavern under the buildings was constructed before the buildings were erected, but can't find out why.


"Tokyo is said to have 12 subways and 250 km of tunneling. I'd say that last figure is closer to 2,000 km. It's clear to me that the tunnels for the Namboku, Hanzomon and O-Edo lines existed before decisions were made to turn them into public subways," Akiba said in the article.


Akiba says he can understand why there were secrets about the tunnel system before World War II, and even during the Cold War years, but he questions why the system remains a secret today.


Akiba is a veteran writer whose record shows his work to be creditable.


While working for Asahi TV, he covered the U.S. military invasion of Panama, leftwing guerrilla actions in Peru, peacekeeping activities in Cambodia, and the Gulf War as a foreign correspondent.


In 1996, he decided to go freelance, recasting himself as a writer. He published a mystery novel, called "Director's Cut" prior to the current book.