Going underground in Japan: Exploring the Seikan Tunnel Museum from Hokkaido to Honshu

The Seikan tunnel is a train tunnel that connects Tohoku in the main island of Honshu to Hokkaido to the north, going a impressive 240m below the sea level. The whole tunnel is over 50km in length and was quite a feat of engineering when it was constructed over 40 years ago under the Tsugaru Straits. Visitors to Japan can now see how it was made, and take a sneak peek down below.

I started at Aomori station, and had to take a few local trains, then a local bus. It was quite easy to do once I’d planned it out, and while it’s a slow, slow journey, it’s always fun to get away from all the tourists and see the real Japanese countryside.

You head down 140m below the surface in one of these little babies, on what is described as the shortest private railroad in the world. It’s a little bit scary going down, as you can see in this video!

Once you are finished with the 9 minute train ride down, the guide will show you around some highlights. They also give you some time to check out the exhibitions yourself.

These fish were taken from under the sea, and are now living at the same depth as they were out in the wild.

The Seikan Tunnel became part of the Tsugaru Kaikyo Line when it was was built, and there used to be 2 train stations below the surface where passengers could actually get out! Unfortunately, now that the Shinkansen runs through the tunnel, these stations have since been closed. But there are some remanents from the old times, such as this old station sign:

And of course, as this is Japan, there are some cute mascots to see!

Just make sure you get a front row seat, it’s rather impressive stuff. Maybe a bit geeky, but super interesting!


Cost: 400 yen for just museum entry, 1300 yen with underground tour

Open: 8:40 to 17:00 (closed in winter)

Official website

How to get there

From Aomori station (near Shin-Aomori on the Shinkansen), take a train to Minmaya Station on the JR Tsugaru Line, then get on the Sotogahamamachi Loop Bus for Tappi (around 30 mins, does not operate in winter) and get off at the Seikan Tunnel Museum bus stop. Be sure to check train times at Hyperdia.

Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict