Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Old Underground Imperial Headquarters - Matsushiro

Matsushiro town is a good to place to visit for at least a day. There are many things and places to see, but one particular place is the old Imperial headquarters that were built into mountains near the end of world war two. The headquarters were built to protect the leadership and imperial family and were quite extensive. However, the tunnels in the mountains were never finished so only the unfinished tunnels can be explored if you visit Matsushiro.

The tunnel entrance.

The layout of the grid like tunnel complex in one mountain. Other mountains have similar tunnels. About 500 meters can be explored on foot.

The tunnels were built by using Korean labor so there is a monument to the Koreans who died tunneling.

The tunel conecting to the entrance is quite low so one must wear a hard hat provided by the organisation operating the tunnels.

Steel supports and wood are used to help secure some sections and to prevent any accidents.

Other connecting tunnels are blocked off with wire mesh and strong gates.

The tunnels are lit sufficiently but in places are dark which gives a feeling of what it may have been like tunneling.

In the above photo you can see the end which is an access point to the outside world. Some of the tunnels have outside access.

One of the cross tunnels lit up for inspection.

Looking down a cross tunnel.

The sunlight at the end can be seen. But the tunnel exploration turns left before that point and keeps going deep into the mountain.

Above, a mark in the rock from tunneling can be seen. And below, some drawings on the walls were found which were drawn by the Korean laborers.

The end of the tunnel open for exploration which goes much further into the mountain.

There are some peace cranes at the junction where the walk ends which are a shrine for peace.

The red section is about 500 meters in length. The above shows how extensive the system was supposed to be.

Looking back just before exiting the tunnels.

The small shed where the hard hats are stored for the visitors who want to explore the opened section of tunnel. The tunnels are a 15 - 25 minute walk from Matsushiro station. At the time of visiting the tunnels, they were free and I received a leaflet with information about them.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Matsushiro castle grounds - Nagano prefecture

Matsushiro castle grounds are located near Matsushiro station and give good views of the alps in Nagano prefecture. A lot of the castle walls are restored and the buildings are restored but the feeling from visiting there is good and due to its smaller size than the bigger more famous castles it is pleasant enough to see easily. Matsushiro can be reached by bus from Nagano city which takes about 30 mins, and train which takes a little longer.

The photos above are of the entrance to the center of the castle grounds.

A view of the rear entrance of the castle.

If the cherry blossoms are out and it is sunny it is a nice place.

The alps in Nagano are still quite covered in snow in early April. The lower mountains are free of snow though.