Previously, we introduced the Akiyoshi plateau, Japan’s largest [ https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/510 ].
Beneath this vast plateau there is an enormous limestone cave with a total length of 10kms.
With an average ceiling height of around 30 meters, Akiyoshido Cavern is said to be the Orient’s No.1 limestone cave.
Created by Mother Nature over a period of some 300 million years, visitors can’t help but be overwhelmed by its beauty.
Today, we’ll introduce just a tiny bit of the roughly 1km underground world that is open to tourists.
Here’s the entrance!
Underground water gushes from the large crevice, and the ambience is quite austere.
As you enter the cave, right away there is a spectacle that will take your breath away. Let’s take a deep breath right here!
This is not computer graphics, nor a science fiction film set.
Except for the pathway and the signboards, everything here was created naturally.
As you venture further inside, you face an incredible display of the greatness of nature.
This is the “Hyakumai-Zara” (Hundred Saucers).
The name comes from the rock formation’s appearance that looks like 100 plates, but actually there are over 500 of them!
From the top plates to the next ones, water containing lime flows on and accumulates. And that water then overflows to the next plate… is how this piece of natural sculpture was created over an astonishing period of time. At a glance it looks like terraced rice fields, and you get a feeling that’s a strange mixture of “beautiful” and “nostalgic”.
As you move further on, you come to a large hall-like space.
This is what a limestone cave is! There are an infinite number of stalactites hanging from the cave ceiling like icicles.
Called “Kasazukushi” (‘Hanging Umbrellas’), the stalactites hanging down look like the ceiling of an umbrella shop of bygone years.
Water permeates the ceiling and drips down in droplets. As with the Hundred Saucers, the water contains lime that sticks to the ends of the stalactites. They say it takes around 70 years to grow 1cm!
Within the time it takes for a person to be born and to die, the stalactite grows a mere 1cm!
As there are plenty of other breathtaking sights that I can’t add to this article, please stop by for a visit!
Faced with a mystery of such an overwhelming scale, it’s easy to forget to take a breath!
Oidemase! Come to Yamaguchi
Address: 3506-2 Akiyoshi, Shuho-cho, Mine city
Open: 8.30-16.30 (Regular times)
Admission: Adults & High school students JPY1200, Middle school students JPY950, Elementary school students JPY600
Holidays: Open all year
Inquiries: 0837-62-0305 (Akiyoshidai Tourism & Exchange Center)
URL: http://akiyoshido.karusuto.com/ (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Masashi Fujimoto
Masafumi Fujimoto Hi there! My name is Masafumi Fujimoto. Until the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, I was engaged in editing production at an advertising company in Tokyo. However, the earthquake was a turning point in my life and I headed home to Yamaguchi. When I arrived, I was extremely energized and motivated to help revitalize the region, but I had a hard time adjusting to the motivation level of the local people. Around that time I met an elderly lady who said: "It doesn't matter if all the people move away from the island; that's just the nature of things. Someday people will come back again." Lessening the tension I’d been feeling, those few words relieved me hugely, and I was able to finally adjust. Since then, I've been involved in writing and editing magazines, and working in advertisement production, as well as doing a little bit of farming. I also spend time walking around Setouchi searching for the many, many voices out there.
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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