Abandoned Train Tunnels in Kanagawa
9 months ago I tried – and failed – to enter a trail of abandoned tunnels which were part of the Atami/Tokaido lines in Kanagawa. I got lost in the wilderness, wasted a rare day off, and had absolutely nothing to show for it. Lesson learned. Even with all my previous conquests, there were some challenges I just wasn’t prepared for.
Before my second attempt, I figured out a route that I thought would take me through the wilderness. And sure enough, I emerged from the dense, arachnid-ridden bamboo forest and onto the footpath in a matter of minutes. Right away, winged creatures swarmed around me, buzzing with excitement at the prospect of their first real meal in ages. No time to stand around … onward into the first tunnel. Curiously enough, the scourge refused to follow me inside, as if they all collectively knew that they didn’t have permission to enter.
A torch would’ve come in handy at this point — which I didn’t have. The light at the far end of the tunnel provided me with a clear enough goal though. I just had to rely on my other senses to guide me through.
Rather than aiding me, the small semi-circle of light ahead only served to prevent my eyes from adjusting to the dark. It was a long overdue test of my nerves. As the light behind me dimmed, the drone of the insects outside gradually eased and the remoteness of my situation sank in. I was completely alone down in that passage. The only person in the world … surrounded by darkness, detached from my own body, and stepping into the light.
The dimly lit fixtures on the tunnel walls began to form into outlines of beings I knew weren’t there … and unfamiliar sounds convinced me of the possibility that I wasn’t alone. Furthermore, no matter how close to the end I thought I was, the distance to the light somehow remained the same. By some means, the tunnel was twisting my perception of reality — I had to get out of there as soon as possible.
It took a full ten minutes to reach the other side. To my relief, I was able to take a break and survey the concrete railroad ties, stacks of wood and leftover junk that I was unable to make out before. Nothing to fear but fear itself. The tunnel began to shake … but this time it wasn’t my mind playing tricks on me. A short distance away the active Tokaido line rumbled on to its next destination.
I was able to return to the other side in a less paranoid state of mind. With my back to the light, the sight of my silhouette stretched out in front of me for a hundred metres or more, leading the way.
The second tunnel was significantly shorter than the first but was twice the width (as it was built to accommodate two lines). Unlike the previous tunnel, recent visitors here had left their mark. From that point onward, the undergrowth took some serious hacking to get through. It was obvious that no one had been through there in some time. Some overhead railway line pillars could just be made out on either side of this nameless bridge. I took it for granted that the rusted, steel platform would grant me safe passage to the other side.
The longest and densest area of vegetation followed the bridge area. With nothing more than a pathetic bamboo stick in hand, I fought through the bushes and thickets one after another. If I hadn’t been sure of what was ahead of me, I probably would’ve given up at this point.
Sometimes mother nature got the best of me, skillfully wrapping vines around my legs and pulling me completely off balance. I did my best to avoid getting spiderwebs in my face (or mouth) but every now and again I’d feel the faint touch of a web tingling my arm and a stripy friend would drop down to confront me.
My perseverance eventually paid off as I reached the third and final tunnel. This was by far the most atmospheric of the three. It came across like some kind of post-apocalyptic art temple, with its glowing, arched windows and multicoloured walls.
Since the graffiti “scene” is almost non-existent on these shores, and shrinking year by year it was a pleasure to see so many pieces, in my own private viewing. The most prolific artist … vandalist … whatever you want to call him was PRAN, who threw up a number of tags in different styles. The Japanese artist BEAVER had a couple of interesting murals, and the rest of the pieces varied from skillful to woeful.
At this point, my camera battery was almost out of juice. I had to shoot carefully to make sure that I could document everything that I wanted.
That was the end of the line for this exploration. Some time – several years in fact – have passed since my last documented excursion. I’m at a loss to explain where the time went, but I know that I can’t get that time back. If truth be told, the majority of the unique ruins in Japan may all have been documented by now. The possibility of unearthing something “new” still exists. It may be deeper underground … or further away from civilization … either way, the search continues.