Japanese Tunnel: Exploring Davao City’s Recent Past

Entrance to the Japanese Tunnel in Davao City
If you’d like to step back in time and take a peek at Davao’s recent and somehow tumultuous past, a visit to D’ Japanese Tunnel Family Resort and Restaurant is a must. The tunnel has elicited much fascination among locals and tourists being a reminder of the war that shaped the history of the world. Today, the Japanese Tunnel is one Davao’s finest attractions.

History

The 300-meter long tunnel was discovered by the landowners while excavating the area in preparation for a hotel’s construction. Passageways, rooms, armaments and other artifacts were discovered inside the tunnel. It was later confirmed that the tunnel was dug out by war prisoners by order of the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War.

The items found inside the tunnel were evidence that it was used by Japanese soldiers to seek cover as they were chased by the American liberating army. The tunnel was also used as headquarters of the country’s erstwhile invaders, with small chambers used as offices and dungeons for prisoners. Vintage guns, explosives and other ammo were also found inside the tunnel, proof that it was also used as an armory.

During the excavation, gold moulders were also found inside the tunnel. This fueled the rumor that the Imperial Army either stored their ever-elusive treasure inside or were digging for gold. No proof whatsoever was found to substantiate these claims but it definitely adds to the mystery of the place.

Location and How to Get There

D’ Japanese Tunnel is located along the South Diversion Road, in Hillcrest Subdivision, Matina Balusong, Davao City. It is about 30 minutes from downtown Davao by car. The resort is hard to miss: a concrete inscription of its name is placed on a steep slope by the hotel rooms. Some tour providers in the city include the tunnel in their itineraries.

However, if you’re visiting the attraction on your own, you can hire a cab from anywhere in the city. Coming from downtown Davao, it should not cost you more than 200 pesos for a one-way trip. It is up to you if you’d want to ask the driver to wait or if you’d rather just wait for another one to come along after you’re done with the tour. Since it is located just outside a subdivision, it is not hard to find a taxi to take you back to the city or your hotel.

The Tunnel

Japanese Tunnel
For a very cheap entrance rate of P50 (about $1.25), guests can already explore the tunnel through a guided tour (NOTE: the guides are not that knowledgeable and sound like he/she is reading from a script). Standing guard at the entrance of the tunnel are two life-sized statues of Japanese soldiers who seem to welcome visitors into their lair. Several other statues of these soldiers and women garbed in traditional Japanese kimonos can found inside the tunnel.

Statue of Japanese soldier holding rifle in Japanese Tunnel
Vintage weaponry including bullets, rifles and machine guns are also displayed inside the tunnel. Makeshift offices, dungeons and water bankers can also be found deeper into the tunnel. There are also small chapels, one of them houses replicas of gold bars and the famous Golden Buddha.

Japanese Tunnel
Given the accounts of harrowing scenes of brutality during the war, the tunnel gives an eerie feeling to every visitor. Some might even expect a ghost of a war prisoner to haunt the annals of the tunnel. This is one of the reasons why the Japanese tunnel holds a special place in Davao’s tourist landscape.

The Hotel and Restaurant

D'Japanese Family Resort and Restaurant
Those who wish to linger in the area can book any of the rooms at the three-storey hotel. At an affordable rate, guests can already enjoy well-appointed accommodations, wireless Internet access and an outdoor pool. The pool is a popular venue for kids’ parties and small events. The restaurant within the property is making a name for itself as it serves some of the best Japanese, Western, Filipino and Chinese cuisine in the city. There is also a coffee shop that offers a relaxing ambiance and some excellent brews.

This Japanese tunnel in Matina Balusong is only one of the many tunnels discovered in the hilly portions of southern Davao. Due to fast-paced developments in the city in the past few decades, these tunnels have either been filled in or forgotten. Fortunately, the D’Japanese Tunnel Family Resort and Restaurant remains to give every visitor a glimpse of the city’s colorful, albeit frightening past.

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