About 50m on the Left from the main entrance of Okinawa World, you will get to this stairs landing & the surprise that awaits you…
The steep descending staircase got my elderly Dad worried but a quick check with the Park staff quelled all our fears. There is an escalator up on the other end of the tunnel.
Gyokusendo Cave is a massive underground cave that runs for about 5km directly under Okinawa World theme park.
This is the longest cave in the south of Okinawa Island & the 2nd longest in the entire country of Japan. About 890m of the cave is open to the public & it features spectacular stalactites & stalagmites that have been formed over 300,000 years ago. This walk would take about an hour or more if you like taking photos like I do.
Columns like this one in the middle are formed when the stalactites from the ceiling grow long enough to connect with the stalagmites on the floor.
The route in the cave is well-lit & the walk comfortable as there are not too many steps to negotiate. This labyrinth of Ryukyu limestone was first discovered in 1967 by a Ehime University Research group.
Okinawa Island lies in the tropical belt & gets plenty of rainfall. Water is constantly sipping through the cave ceiling in different sections of the cave & dripping from these hanging stalactites depositing minerals & causing them to grow.
Stroboscopic lights illuminate the stalactites & stalagmites transforming the cave into a surrealistic & fantastical playground. It takes about 3 years for them to grow 1mm & Gyokusendo Caves maintains an average temperature of 21°C.
We entered this clearing which had a high roof & some explanations about the native fauna that inhabited Gyokusendo Caves like bats, fishes & reptiles.
These stalactites resemble a pretty pink curtain & is very eye-catching. We should refrain from touching the speleothems as the oil on our skin stops them from growing & makes it turn into an unattractive blackish colour.
An underground river flows in Gyokusendo Caves & you can hear water trickling or dripping all the time.
Gyokusendo Caves gained international renown when the monster classic “Godzilla vs Mecha Godzilla” was filmed on location in 1974 besides other lesser known movies.
Fossils of deer bones have been found embedded in the cave rock as evidenced here.
A tiny waterfall with crystal clear waters flow over the calcium carbonate rocks in this subterranean labyrinth.
‘Green Spring ‘- Travertine terraces with pools lighted up in turquoise to accentuate their natural beauty.
Some of the stalactites & stalagmites resemble humans or animals & in this case the stalagmite is named a buddha “Migawari Kwan Yin”, the goddess of Mercy.
This “Gathered Drape” stalactite took thousands of years to form & its fluid shape & plate-like formation is unusual & attractive. This is the ‘pride’ of Gyokusendo Caves.
A cheerful green pool at the “Welcome Door” within Gyokusendo Caves.
This place makes an interesting visit & I enjoyed it the most compared to the other two attractions in Okinawa World i.e. Habu Snake Museum & The Traditional craft village. It is good to be close to nature & to be enthralled by the bizarre formations that come in different hues, shapes & sizes… sparking the imagination!