Every year for the past four years, the Tokyo Metro company has put on a bit of a scavenger hunt puzzle that takes you all across the Tokyo metro area on the Tokyo Metro subway lines. Armed with your puzzle kit and a 24-hour metro pass, you zip around Tokyo, finding clues in real life and solving puzzles. A few friends and I went and tested our mettle to see if we could solve the great Underground Mysteries of the 2018 season.
How to Participate
Participation is easy: You pick your day and find out which stations are giving out kits that day (more restrictions are applied for the English kits, but going on weekends gives you more starting options). Our group started at Ueno station and picked up two kits from the station ticket office. Note that if you have a large group, not everyone needs a kit. Instead, you can get one kit for everyone to share and spend 600 yen for the others so they can get their own day passes. You’ll save a lot of money this way, as each kit costs 2200 yen (but it does come with a day pass!).
The game is a great way to do something as a group and see some unique spots all around Tokyo. Each location you can visit with the puzzle comes with a handy guide for the area, highlighting some cool eats and interesting sights at each. You will be going to a lot of different areas, so if you don’t like trains, have claustrophobia, or don’t want to be walking a lot, then this isn’t the activity for you! It’s usually only available in the Winter season, so if you come in the summer, you won’t be able to do the yearly event.
Some of the puzzles can be real head-scratchers. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t post anything that reveals answers or gives hints you can’t already see from flipping through the puzzle kit. You have to really think on your feet and keep your eye out in each area in order to get the correct answers and not get lost along the way. Thankfully, we never got lost, but I can easily see how people can.
Tips and Tricks
- You will need to use everything in your kit, and I do mean everything! Do not throw anything away and look at every piece with a close eye to details. There may be hidden markings or odd bits which you may need to solve later puzzles on pieces you use early on in your adventure.
- The wording for some of the clues is a bit confusing, especially the gray and black puzzle and the final question. The game has built-in hints on their website, which you should use if you get stuck. The clues will help you to a certain point, usually just one step before the answer is made clear. Remember the first tip I gave and look at all your gear again!
- Give yourself time. It can take a while to travel between locations and figure out the puzzles. If you’re taking a leisurely pace, it may take you more than 24 hours to complete the puzzles! If you focus and do minimal touristing, you can finish it in one day. Our group had a nice lunch and dinner and drinks after, allowing us to finish at 8:30 PM after starting at 10:30 AM, if that helps you gauge your own pacing.
- If this is your first time in Tokyo, take your time! Completing the game is great, yes, but don’t deprive yourself of seeing the recommended spots in your kit or places you’ve researched beforehand. Know your priorities and work the game in accordingly.
With all that in mind, we had such a blast running around the city, finding tiny details and secret areas we would have otherwise never seen or noticed by doing the game. If you have the time and a sharp mind, it’s a great way to get around Tokyo in a unique and challenging way!