Gyokusendo Caves

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About 50m on the Left from the main entrance of Okinawa World, you will get to this stairs landing & the surprise that awaits you…

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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.

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Gyokusendo Cave is a massive underground cave that runs for about 5km directly under Okinawa World theme park.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We entered this clearing which had a high roof & some explanations about the native fauna that inhabited Gyokusendo Caves like bats, fishes & reptiles.

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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.

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An underground river flows in Gyokusendo Caves & you can hear water trickling or dripping all the time.

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Gyokusendo Caves gained international renown when the monster classic “Godzilla vs Mecha Godzilla” was filmed on location in 1974 besides other lesser known movies.

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Fossils of deer bones have been found  embedded in the cave rock as evidenced here.

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A tiny waterfall with crystal clear waters flow over the calcium carbonate rocks in this subterranean labyrinth.

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‘Green Spring ‘- Travertine terraces with pools lighted up in turquoise to accentuate their natural beauty.

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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.

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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.

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A cheerful green pool at the “Welcome Door” within Gyokusendo Caves.

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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!

 

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