See Tokyo with an Underground Mystery Game

By Ai Faithy Perez
December 2, 2015

If you ever wanted to be Sherlock when you were a child, this is your chance. The Underground Mysteries by Scrap Corporation is a treasure hunt style puzzle game, now available in English and Chinese exclusively in Tokyo. Using Tokyo’s metro as the playing field, you saunter around the Big Mikan following clues and leads. Of course, to play you’ll need a game kit containing a plastic folder, an intricate map of the metro, a two-sided card with holes in it, a booklet (which you will come to love and hate), and a Tokyo Metro day pass. It costs a very reasonable ¥2,160 (including the day pass), and the kits can be purchased at Tokyo Metro Ueno station’s pass office (open from 7:40 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day).

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One unique aspect of The Underground Mysteries, as opposed to the famous Real Escape Room games, is that there is no time limit. As a result, it’s ideal for those of us who want to see and enjoy Tokyo along the way. But on the flip side, if you want to speed up the game because you have somewhere to be, it’ll take three to four hours on average. Another aspect that may make it attractive to families is that there is no limit for age and number of players. So take your small humans with you, and it’s a fun family day out!

Scrap Corporation also has two other (room type) games here in Tokyo. In these you are stuck in a single room with six people (friends and/or strangers) and you have to figure out, in half an hour, how to escape using words, numbers, symbols and pictures. These escape games have grown in reputation over these past few years and have almost become a craze, reaching as far as America, Canada, Spain, France and Singapore.

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In Japan, Scrap Corporation plans to open three locations, of which one (Asakusa) is already up and running. Asakusa’s room type games have proven to be a huge success, and the next location on Scrap’s map is Nagoya. I was told that Nagoya’s first Real Escape game will be debuting in early January 2016. Look out for the details.

I tried The Underground Mysteries for myself not long ago. And before starting the day, I was all nerves, not knowing what I’d be faced with. To be honest, my brain is not built for riddles. Clue was my least favorite board game when I was a child and I always, always lost.

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The clues in the kit are mostly meant to be taken literally, and yet at the same time, not. It’s a slippery fish to say the least. My friend and I were stumped for the first 45 minutes at our first location. We put our heads together only to find ourselves scratching them all the harder, that is, until we actually had a light bulb moment and solved our first clue.  After we’d broken our duck it was brilliant, addictive fun.

We almost breezed through the rest of the game. And after scurrying around Tokyo to six different locations with a book full of clues and hints, we had our final answer. It was a lot of fun and a great way to see the parts of Tokyo that you may otherwise miss.

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I’d give it a whole-hearted five stars and my personal stamp of approval. So, wannabe Sherlocks, pick up your kit anytime before the end of January 2016 and head out for an adventure around this wonderful city. It’s not Baker Street, but it’ll do. Hat up and good luck!


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