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Japanese Tunnels on Jardine’s Lookout

Mud, sweat and … BATS!

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Inside Tunnel 2. Big rooms and bats!

Related Posts: For more Wartime Tunnel posts, visit tag: Wartime Tunnels

Before I go any further, I should give credit where credit is due. Without the tireless commitment of the guys at Gwulo.com to uncovering the parts of the city the rest of us would otherwise never see, I would never have known such subterranean delights existed.

It’s thanks them that I’ve recently found myself spending most of my free time crawling through dirt, shrieking at bats, and generally enjoying a whole new world of random exploration that their good work has opened up. What follows is meant as an addition to that work rather than as any claim to have done anything of note myself. I’ve mainly tried to provide some extra photos and an account of what I found. If you want to keep updated with all the latest discoveries, head over to Gwulo and have yourself a jolly good time.

There are wartime tunnels all over Hong Kong. You wouldn’t know it if you weren’t looking, but I guess any tunnel worth the digging should strive to make itself at least a little tough to find. The Japanese were evidently pretty busy during their three years and eight months occupation of Hong Kong, digging the tunnels and preparing themselves for the invasion they assumed was coming. In the event, Japan’s participation in World War II was brought to an end before any invasion became necessary, but the evidence of their stay can be found all over the Hong Kong landscape. You just need to know where to look.

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Follow the path heading off to the right for Tunnel 1

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You should see the tunnel entrance down to your left after fifty yards or so

So where are they?

Like most of the tunnels currently identified on Gwulo, the two featured here are located in the hills of central Hong Kong Island. More specifically, they can be found relatively easily a little way from the top of Jardine’s Lookout on Stage 2 of the Wilson Trail.

Tunnel 1

From Hong Kong Parkview, follow the Wilson Trail Stage 2 up to Jardine’s Lookout. Have a rest at the top, admire the view (if you can see it), then continue on the same trail so that you are heading down to the quarry.

The steps go down a couple of hundred metres before rising up again briefly for ten steps or so. After this brief rise, you should be looking for a small path heading off to the right. When you find it, follow it until you see a tunnel opening down to your left.

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The main entrance is a fairly steep slope down into the tunnel

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Stairs were dug inside but have since silted up

There are two exits to the tunnel and the tunnel itself is quite long. Entering the main entrance leads you down a short but fairly steep slope, before winding down a couple of corridors until you reach a second exit that brings you out, rather disoriented, into the bushes on the other side of the hill.

This exit actually seems much more finished than the current main entrance. It’s more like an arched doorway, with the walls of the tunnel noticeably smoother, and a higher, more rounded ceiling. It makes me wonder whether this was meant as the original entrance, or at least the entrance that began construction first.

The tunnel itself is fairly easy to negotiate. After sliding down the slope at the main entrance, the roof is high enough to stoop your way along. Inside, there are the remains of a staircase – which has become more of a slope over time – with a small observation hole at the top. There are also several alcoves carved into the rock as seen in the photos. Except the slope at the start, there should be nothing too hair-raising within. You can save your nerves for Tunnel 2.

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There are also several alcoves cut into the rock

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Could the “rear” entrance have originally been intended as the main entrance?

Tunnel 2

After checking out Tunnel 1, rejoin the path from Jardine’s Lookout and follow it down towards the quarry. You will come to a rocky clearing on your right about halfway between Tunnel 1 and the bottom. The entrance to Tunnel 2 is towards the lower part of that clearing, just by the side of the path.

At first glance, the entrance looks more like a collapsed cave or a sinkhole than a tunnel. It has been fairly well filled in over time, but if you climb down into the hole, the tunnel should be easy enough to crawl into. Inside, it’s more cavern than tunnel. There is a wide “foyer” leading down to a large chamber at the back, with a couple of smaller passages leading off it just after the entrance. There is also a narrower tunnel off to the right further in which requires a fair bit of crawling to get through. It’s stuffy and claustrophobic, but it opens up into another large room at the end. The only thing is, the room is full of b-b-bats.

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Tunnel 2 can be found further down towards the quarry on the right of the path

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The entrance has been mostly filled in, but it is still possible to squeeze inside …

There were a couple of dozen of them hanging from the ceiling or flying about. There wasn’t the 100 or so I expected from the account on Gwulo, but it didn’t make me particularly confident about venturing any further. It seems the tunnel extends further beyond this room, but another trip with little extra courage will be needed to find out.

The size of the entrance and the large chambers inside perhaps point to the tunnel being used as some kind of storage unit for supplies or ammunition. I also thought maybe it could have been built as some kind of potential guerrilla headquarters or some such. There are several other exits, though most have been filled in or collapsed since they were abandoned.

Either way, it is certainly the largest and most interesting of the Japanese tunnels on Hong Kong Island. The bats give it that extra little spook factor, and though they shouldn’t bother you if you don’t bother them, it would definitely be wise to cover up. I certainly wouldn’t be relishing the trip to hospital for my rabies jabs after getting bitten. Gloves would also probably be a good idea. But maybe I’ve just read too many stories about bats and flesh-eating viruses to not be paranoid. Play safe!

Related Posts: For more Wartime Tunnel posts, visit tag: Wartime Tunnels

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… where a large tunnel complex with several large rooms can be found

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