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yokohama

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I am always fascinated by intriguing Japanese history like this where a secret Japanese Navy bunker in Yokohama gives a glimpse of the finals days of WWII.

Construction of the underground tunnels began in July 1944, mobilizing troops and Korean forced laborers. A room for the chief commander, Adm. Soemu Toyota, and key departments were up and running in a few months.

Only in the chief commander’s room, cement on the walls was smoothed out, the floor was covered with tatami mats and there was a door. He climbed up and down 126 stairs between the two command centers — above and below ground. His room was slightly elevated so that the floor remained dry, and there was even a flush toilet.

The tunnel command center also had ventilation ducts, a battery room, food storage with ample stock of sake, in addition to deciphering and cable and communications departments. Marks on the ceiling remain from where overhead lights hung. The tunnels housing the command center and its facilities under the campus are 30 meters underground and stretch about 2.6 km in length.

The conditions for those leading the war contrasted with those of ordinary people, who hid in small mud shelters as firebombs rained down from the sky, Akuzawa said.

Hisanao Oshima, who was there from February to May 1945 as a communications crew monitoring Morse code, still cannot forget the moments when he lost signals from kamikaze fighters. “The sound stops, and that means he crashed. I just cannot get that out of my head,” he said in an interview with NHK.

It is really neat for this to exist so close to where I live. If a chance to take a tour of these tunnels ever came up I would surely jump on it in a heartbeat.

I know there is an entire network of underground military tunnels running all over the Kanagawa-to-Tokyo area. Tunnels can be entered in Yokosuka Naval Base and drives all the way up to multiple locations in Yokohama and other Kanagawa bases as well, such as Camp Zama, Atsugi, Yokohama North Dock, and more. While I am sure they are insect and rat infested to disturbing levels, it would be a fascinating underground – literally – look at some Japanese history we rarely read or hear about.