Do you have caves in your country?
There are many caves in Japan as well, of various shapes, sizes, and lengths.
Because it is cool inside the cave, it is especially popular as a “cool sightseeing spot” in the hot and humid Japanese summer.
Today, I would like to introduce three tourist caves called the “3 major limestone caves in Japan” and 3 other caves that I recommend in Aki’s opinion.
Japan’s 3 largest limestone caves
Ryusendo is a limestone cave designated as a national natural monument.
Written in kanji, it is 龍泉洞, meaning Dragon Valley Cave.
The limestone caves are said to total 5,000 meters in length and are still being surveyed. Of these, 700 m are open to the public.
Amazingly, there are holes where as many as five different kinds of bats live.
The LED-lit space is beautiful, and you can see a variety of stalactites and underground lakes.
Official website of Ryusendo (English)
One of the three major limestone caves in Japan, I will next introduce you to Akiyoshido(秋芳洞) Cave in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
This limestone cave is located 100 m underground in Akiyoshidai National Park and has a 1 km sightseeing path open to the public. It is one of the largest limestone caves in Japan.
The temperature is 17°C throughout the four seasons, and it feels cool in summer and warm in winter.
Akiyoshido Cave is home to a world-famous sight. It is the “Hyaku-mai-sara”.
Written in Kanji, it is 百枚皿, meaning a hundred plates.
The stalactites are stacked one on top of the other, creating a mysterious sight that resembles terraced rice paddies.
The scenery of Akiyoshido Cave is also beautiful, and is a must-see before entering the cave. You can enjoy full of nature!
Official website of Akiyoshido (English)
The last of the three major limestone caves in Japan is Ryugado(龍河洞) in Kochi Prefecture.
The total length is 4 km, of which approximately 1 km is open to the public.
One of the highlights of Ryugado is “Kami-no-tsubo”.Written in KANJI, “神の壺”, the literal translation means “God’s pot”.
They say this is a miraculous formation that has been formed over a period of 2,000 years.
In addition to the regular sightseeing tour, Ryuga-dong offers a 1.5 hour course guided by a navigator. I have only been to the regular course, so I am interested in it.
Oh yes, when you visit Ryugado, be sure to check out the nearby souvenir shops. This area is famous for its knife.
I bought my knives here because they are so sharp.
Yoshimune knive, the store I introduced in the past, also sells knives made by craftsmen in this area, so if you like, you can check out their article as well.
Official website of Ryugado (English)
AKI’s recommended limestone caves
Now, let me introduce three limestone caves that AKI personally recommends.
Senbutsu cave, a limestone cave in Fukuoka Prefecture, which I visited last August.
This limestone cave was designated a national natural monument in 1935.
It’s a bit of an adventure. From about 480 meters from the entrance, a creek-like path leads along the river, so you have to jabble along the river.
The surrounding scenery is also really nice! There is a karst plateau with rolling limestone.
Gyokusendo(玉泉洞) was created by coral uplift over a period of about 300,000 years.
I went there in March of 2023!
This place is unique in that you can see a wide variety of stalactites.
There are a whopping 37 varieties. The inside of the cave was beautifully illuminated, and the water was a beautiful color.
The total length is 5 km, of which 890 m is open to the public, but I think I walked quite a bit.
Gyokusendo is located in a tourist attraction called “Okinawa World. Okinawa World has many different spots, so you can enjoy half a day there!
AKI would like to visit Menfudo caves(面不動鍾乳洞） in Tenkawa Village, Nara Prefecture.
The discovery was relatively new, in 1933. It took five years to excavate the site from there.
The total length of the road is 280 meters and the temperature in the road is 8 degrees Celsius. It is quite a cool spot.
The reason I am interested in this cave is that it is high up and can be reached by a little monorail.
It may be a small limestone cave, but the lighting is very good as seen in the pictures. It is one of the limestone caves I would like to visit someday.
Still, the beauty created by nature is truly mysterious.