Kyushu is an island full of interesting sights from historic castles to gorgeous hotsprings 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 it by plane or boat. The other option is to drive or ride across one of the many access bridges via car or train.
However, a lot of people don’t realize that it’s possible to walk between the islands as well using the Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel which runs between Shimonoseki City in Yamaguchi Prefecture (Honshu) and Moji Ward of Kitakyushu City (Kitakyushu).
The tunnel is actually a part of National Highway 2. The highway divides into two tunnel 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.
▼ That sign should read “Open Hours,” as it would take way less than 14 hours for most people to pass through 780 meters.
Those who want to take a bike through will also have to pay a 20 yen fee, but regular pedestrians can go through for free.
SoraNews24 writer 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, or about 18 stories, down.
During the 60-second descent Masanuki thought about how this elevator was technically a part of the highway. He wondered how many elevators in the world could boast such a thing when suddenly the doors opened.
As far as tunnels go, this one really managed to keep the dank at a minimum. The walls and ceiling were painted vibrant shades of blue and the 4-meter-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 strait 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 demarkation.
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.
Masanuki was happy to reach the border, but this was only about half of his journey. There was more walking to do.
Along the way, he spotted several joggers. Given the tunnel’s length, free admission, and imperviousness to the weather, it’s an ideal spot for running.
Finally, Masanuki had made it to the island of Honshu. On each side of the tunnel was a stamp, and by making a special paper with the stamps, he could receive a special certificate saying he had made the journey.
So, if you happen to be in the area and are looking for an interesting place to take a stroll, as Masanuki’s pamphlet says, “ComeOn Kanmon!”
Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel / 関門トンネル人道
Yamaguchi-ken, Shimonoseki-shi, Mimosusogawa-cho 22 (Honshu Side)
Fukuoka-ken, Kitakyushu-shi, Moji-ku, Moji (Kyushu side)
Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (elevator access)
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