He didn’t know where it would lead, but he had to find out.

Our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma had a problem. As part of his commute to the SoraNews24 offices in downtown Tokyo, he transfers at Ikebukuro Station. But before hopping on the Fukutoshin Line subway train that’s the last part of his journey, he noticed an open doorway on the platform.

Despite passing through the station every day, Masanuki had never seen this door open before, and there was no sign indicating where it led to. His curiosity was piqued, but taking the time to investigate would mean he’d miss his train and be late for work.

But then Masanuki remembered what kind of company he works for, and that our boss is pretty flexible on punctuality as long as you call in and explain that you’ll be late because of some weirdness that you encountered and need to look into. So after a quick phone call to check in and say “Found a weird stairway. Gonna see where it goes. If I don’t show up later today avenge my death,” Masanuki stepped through the doorway and found himself at the bottom of a long stairwell with bare concrete walls and steps. Far above, he could see that the stairs turned before they got to the top, so he couldn’t tell where he was headed as he started climbing the steps.

There was a lonely, almost foreboding atmosphere to the stairway, and he wondered if he was even supposed to be in there. He felt a little better when another person started coming down the stairway, but after they passed each other Masanuki was once again all alone in the corridor.

Eventually he came to a landing, where there was a bucket of dingy water on the floor, and three potential paths to progress along.

To the left was a strange half-sized door with a series of stickers bearing some sort of alphanumeric code.

Straight ahead was another door, with a sign next to it indicating that inside was the Number 2 Air Conditioning Machinery Room.

But with both doors closed, Masanuki decided it would be better to leave them be, and so he continued moving up the stairs, still with no other signs of human life around.

Finally, he reached the top…

and came out right next to the station’s ticket gates!

But why hadn’t he ever seen this stairway before, and why had only one other person been on it? Taking a look to his left, he saw the answer.

The downward escalator for this gate was having a maintenance inspection done, and so the stairway, which is normally only for station staff to use, had been opened up to the general public. The upwards escalator was still running, though, which explained why Masanuki was the only person walking up the stairs, and Ikebukuro’s location in downtown Tokyo means that not a lot of people start their commute there, which was why only one person was making their way down to the platform from the entrance during Masanuki’s morning exploration.

▼ It’s probably also why there was a sign at the top telling people they could take the stairs down to the platform, but not one for those taking the stairs in the opposite direction.

Since he hadn’t ended up in an alternate dimension or a secret government laboratory, Masanuki reversed his steps, took the stairs back down to the platform, and hopped on a train to finish his commute, so we didn’t have to avenge him after all.

Still, we can’t help wondering what other secrets Japan’s train stations are hiding.

Photos © SoraNews24
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