I did not get accurate information on how to get to Akiyoshido Cave & the telephone no. I keyed into the GPS brought me to the Mine Tourism office instead. Fortunately I met a young man fixing his jeep nearby & asked for directions. He went out of his way & led me to the cave’s entrance which was nearly 20mins drive away. I met a good Samaritan today!
The distance from the parking area to the cave entrance is about 1 & a half km walk. Entrance fee to the cave is JP¥1,200 & it opens from 8:30am till 4:30pm daily.
Emerald green waters, beautiful moss covered rocks, a smallish waterfall & autumn colours in perfect harmony adorning the entrance of Aikyoshido Cave (秋芳洞).
Akiyoshidai Plateau (秋吉台) & Akiyoshido Cave (秋芳洞) is notably Yamaguchi’s premier scenic spot & they are designated as a special natural treasure by the Japanese government. This area is a limestone plain & also a karst plateau that was formed by the movement of submarine volcanoes & the ocean plates over a span of 350 million years.
The ground changes which formed Aikyoshidai Plateau (秋吉台) also created a huge limestone cave known as Akiyoshido Cavern (秋芳洞). It is the largest limestone cave in Asia & it is an amazing experience as we enter here, the cave entrance Akiyoshido Iriguchi (秋芳洞入口).
This section is known as “One Hundred Saucers” Hyakumaizara (百枚皿) & it does resemble a whole lot of plates stacked up.
This underground network stretches over 10km & branches out shaped like a Y, but the route that we took was about a km long. “The Big Mushroom” Omatsutake (大松茸).
“Subogaki” Straw wrapped Persimmon (苞柿) – the flowstone form what looks like strips of ‘khaki ribbons’ hence the descriptive name.
“Thousand Rice Fields” Chimachida (千町田) where the cave takes a gradual bend bearing right & going up slope. LED lightings line the paved walk & there are sections where you have to negotiate stairways.
The cave widens & opens up to a larger cavern which is about 100m in width & 80m in height at its highest ceiling point. The hanging stalactites in this section is known as “Hanging Umbrellas” Kasazukushi (傘尽くし) & they supposedly look like closed-up parasols hanging overhead.
“Dry Falls” Karataki (空滝) – the semblance to a real cascading waterfall is uncanny here!
“The Golden Pillar” Koganebashira (黄金柱) is really a sight to behold as it glows in the dark, perhaps with a little help from the lights. There is a myriad of colours at different angles of the column & it is evidently minerals deposited over a long time.
A subterranean river runs through the cave & the sound of gushing waters can sometimes be heard & not seen & at this juncture a mini waterfall can be seen clearly cascading downwards.
We had a pleasant surprise as the Night Illumination of the Cave began just as we were about to leave when evening approached.
“Mt Fuji of the Cave” Dounai Fuji (洞内富士). Water dripping from the ceiling formed this mount like stalagmite that resembles Mt Fuji. The vista is both beautiful & bizarre & it emanates an other-worldly vibe.
“One Hundred Saucers” Hyakumaizara (百枚皿) awashed in rainbow hues which I like but some may find outright garish & prefer it “au naturel”. What is your take?
Pretty reflections on the still water surface at the “Long Abyss” Nagafuchi (長淵).
I was mesmerised by the changing hues & drawn by the peaceful atmosphere that made me linger just a little longer – “Long Abyss” Nagafuchi (長淵)
Exiting after spending about 90mins inside the cool cave which maintains an average temperature of 17°C throughout the year.
I thoroughly enjoyed this visit to Akiyoshido Cave to have a closer look at the speleothems which sometimes is strangely beautiful & at other times grotesque but they never fail to evoke some kind of reaction & a sense of wonderment at the beauty of nature.