Lubang Jepang

Lobang Jepang - Japanese Tunnel - Japanese Caves

Useful Information

Location: Jalan Panorama, Bukittinggi, West Sumatra
Fee: Adults Rp 8,000, Children Rp 5,000.
Classification: SubterraneaWorld War II Bunker
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=5,000m
Guided tours: L=1,400m
Address: Dreamland Holiday, Jl. Yos Sudarso No 13, Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, Indonesia 26113, Tel: +62-752-7022777, Tel: +62-752-7003322, Fax: +62-752-22451. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1942 tunnel system built.
1945 Japanese left after the war.
1954 tunnels discovered.
2004 part of the tunnels closed.


The Lubang Jepang (Japanese Tunnel) is, according to legend, a remains of a 1.4 km long tunnel built by the Japanese in World War II to conquer Fort de Kock. The city Bukittinggi (high hill) is located in the Minangkabau highlands, close to the volcanoes Mount Singgalang and Mount Marapi. It was built along the Ngarai Sianok (Sianok Canyon) and offers beautiful views into the canyon. during colonial times the Dutch established an outpost here in 1825 during the Padri War. Fort de Kock was founded by Captain Bauer at the top of Jirek hill and later named after the Lieutenant Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, Hendrik Merkus de Kock.

Actually it was not necessary to built a tunnel to conquer the fort, the technology of the fort was useless against the weapons of World War II, it was only a relic at that time. The city had a big importance because of its strategic situation in the middle of the island of Sumatra. In March 1942 the Japanese under General Watanabe seized the city from the Dutch Government hands. They created their Army Defense Command Center here underground, safe from Allied air raids.. The complex included ammunition storage, barracks, dining hall, hospital, courtroom and kitchen. The tunnels belonging to the underground bunkers have a total length of some 5,000 m. About 1,400 m belong to the Defence Command, most of them are restored and equipped with electric light.

The Lubang Jepang tunnel system was built by Romusa, Indonesian prisoners of war and other prisoners which were forced to work. A lot of them were coal miners from Sawahlunto. Many of the workers from Java and Sumatra died during the construction, and all surviving workers were killed and buried in one passage they had built before, to keep the tunnels secret. It worked, and the bunker was secret until after the war. And until today it is unknown when the tunnels were actually started and how long it took.

On the other hand it is most likely that the base was never fully completed. Although the tunnels were complete, it was never properly utilized. At the end the Japanese were short on almost anything. And with the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima on 07-JUL and 08-AUG-1945, the war ended. The Republic of Indonesia proclaimed its independence on 17-AUG-1945.

The visit is rather easy as the tunnels have been cleaned and paved, and there is electric light. However, the first thing is a steep staircase with 135 steps leading down 27 m to the level of the horizontal passages. The passages are about 2 m wide and 3 m high. Some 700 m are accessible, 700 m more are closed since 2004. The bunker has three main doors and six emergency doors. The main door in the Panorama Park is used for the public tours, all others are closed. The other main doors are located at the road through Sianok Canyon and at the Bung Hatta Palace (Triarga Building).