松代大本営跡

Matsushiro Daihon'ei Ato - Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters


Useful Information

Location: Daikancho (Zozan East) Parking Lot (free). 8 minutes walk.
Open: All year daily 9-16, last admission 15:30.
Closed 3rd Thursday in Month, 31-DEC, 01-JAN.
[2020]
Fee: free.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaWorld War II Bunker
Light: electric, bring torch
Dimension: L=6km, T=15°C.
Guided tours: L=500m, self guided, helmets provided.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography:
Address: Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters, 479-11 Matsushiromachi Nishijo, Nagano, 381-1232, Tel: +81-26-224-8316.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

11-NOV-1944 begin of construction.
15-AUG-1945 construction works stopped at the end of the war, with 75% completed.
1946 the imperial palace is converted into an orphanage by a local Buddhist association.
1947 assortment of seismographs and equipment installed at Mount Maizuru.
1967 Matsushiro Earthquake Center built.
1990 parts of the Mount Zōzan bunker opened by Nagano Municipality and Shinshu University set up an astronomical observatory.
1990 first 500m of the Mount Zōzan facilities openened to the public.

Description

松代大本営跡 (Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters) is an underground tunnel system which was built during World War II as an bunker for the central organs of government of Imperial Japan. It is located inside three mountains at the outskirts of Nagano city. Mount Maizuru contains the facilities for the Imperial General Headquarters and palace functions. Military communications is located under Mount Saijo. Mount Zōzan contains the government agencies, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) and central telephone facilities. Mount Minakami contains the residences of the imperial family and Mount Kōbō the Imperial Sanctuary. All mountains are connected by tunnels.

The bunker was originally planned to serve as an alternative headquarters for the Imperial General headquarters. But at the end of the war, the idea was to add a palace to the complex and to relocate the Emperor to the complex in an armored train if necessary. Emperor Hirohito was informed about the construction of the complex in May 1945, but not about the plans to relocate him. In June he was informed and asked to relocate, but he refused. Some say he refused because this would have isolated the Emperor and allowed the army to rule in his name.

Some parts of the huge bunker system, which was only completed 75% at the end of the war, were used later for various things. When the Mount Zōzan bunker was opened by Nagano Municipality and Shinshu University to set up an astronomical observatory in 1990 they also opened a small part for sightseeing. However, Japan is not very happy about the World War II history and the place was omitted from all tourist information leaflets for the 1998 Winter Olympics.