Imagine yourself, in a place where the shadows make lonely company, and darkness seeps into every corner. The air feels damp and cold around you and it is as eerie and still as a graveyard. Like a bad dream, you hope you it ends soon, but time passes as slow as a wet weekend. With an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach, you wonder what dark things silently creep around you. Sound scary? Well, it kind of is.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine recommended hiking through the tunnels of Takedao, which can be found along a disused train line through mountains that ablaze with fall colors of scarlet and gold, between JR Takedao and Nishinomiya-Naijo stations. These tunnels are a bit frightening, and even the brave will shudder a little in the bible black darkness. The hike is very easy in terms of physical exercise but mentally, it’s slightly more challenging. There are six tunnels in all and though you might be laughing at the simplicity of the first three or four, you will no longer be laughing while stumbling through pitch black darkness in the last two tunnels. So a flashlight and a friend are necessary. Luckily, there are usually a few other hikers on this trail so you don’t have to feel too nervous if you are alone, but I did notice the lone hikers looked a little more shaken than the ones with company.

From Takedao station, a sleepy little mountain station (where there wasn’t even an attendant working when I went there), there are six tunnels that you have to pass through, before reaching Nishinomiya-Naijo station on the other side. From Osaka, take the JR Takarazuka Line, which eventually turns into the JR Fukuchiyama Line. Takedao is about 45 minutes from Osaka Station and costs 650 yen to get there. Exiting Takedao station, follow the stairs to a paved road and turn left. You will pass a little rest area, where you can pick up a bottle of locally made cider (the non-alcoholic variety) to quench your thirst before the hike.

After your cider break, keep walking past and you will eventually come to some wooden train ties and this is the beginning of the hike. This hike is good for people who like to scare themselves. You probably know the kind; likes to rent horror movies, is attracted to thrill seeking activities such as sky-diving or wandering around Nishinari after midnight, etc. Or if you are looking to conquer your fears of the dark, the tunnels of Takedao are the place to go.



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