Today, in Part 2 of our Taishakukyo Valley Walking Course, I will be introducing a limestone cave. (Part 1: http://eng.mg/1b2d4.)
The enormous Taishakukyo Valley has a total length of around 18km. Part of it includes a limestone plateau that has been eroded by the river to form karst terrain in which limestone caves can be found at several locations.
However, the only one that can be entered and looked around is Hakuun Cave.
This is the walking course found at Kamitaishaku, an area in the northern part of the valley. It’s a comfortable trail where you can enjoy forest bathing while listening to the murmuring of the water.
The entrance to Hakuun Cave is located around 200m from the starting point of the course.
I step away from the walking trail by the river and climb up the hill road.
To tour the Hakuun Cave you have to pay an entrance fee (JPY250 for adults).
After buying a ticket at the counter, I finally start exploring the cave.
The first thing to surprise you will be the narrowness of the way in! A grown person can barely go through, and there is certainly no space for passing.
Cool air flows from within the cave and suddenly it’s much cooler. Inside the cave it’s around 11℃ throughout the year. During summer, you just can’t get enough of it!
After walking along the pathway for a while, you start to see stalactites.
The pathway gradually widens and you’ll be surprised that this kind of space from another world exists here.
Further on, the cave interior is dotted with unique stalactites and strangely shaped rocks.
This is “Hakuunten”. Surrounded by an air of mystery, it’s a stalactite that looks like the face of Daimajin (“Great Demon God”) seen from the side.
Mother Nature’s creations are sure to surprise you every time!
This is the “Sotetsuiwa” (‘sotetsu’ = ‘Japanese sago palm’). The rock surface has been shaved away by the strong winds that blow through the cave, creating this rough wave-like pattern.
As it stands nearly 5 meters tall, looking at it from below has quite the impact!
“Chikufuiwa” can be seen at the top of this photograph. It’s a stalagmite that has been shaped over a period of around 10 thousand years.
(* Stalagmites are rock formations that grow from the cave floor, and are created from the accumulation of material contained within water that drips from the cave ceiling. As they’re a bit like bamboo, they’re called “Chikufuiwa” – “Growing Bamboo Stone”.)
Though a narrow passage continues on from this point, this is the deepest accessible part (around 200 meters from the entrance).
When I entered the cave, I was surprised how narrow the pathway was, and how much longer it was than I expected it to be. The space opens up to a maximum width of about 5 meters and a height of 20 meters.
Actually, Onbashi, which I introduced in Part 1 of the Taishakukyo Valley Walking Course [http://eng.mg/1b2d4], is also thought to have originally been a limestone cave, which collapsed due to erosion.
These amazing works of art, a natural bridge and limestone caves, were created over tens of thousands of years, an astonishing amount of time.
How about taking a walking tour to experience the scenic beauty of the Taishakukyo Valley?
Location: 1932-1 Taishakumido, Tojo-cho, Shobara city, Hiroshima prefecture
Admission: Adults JPY250, High school students JPY200, Elementary & middle school students JPY150
Season: March 1st thru December 10th. (Closed every Thursday from March 3rd to July 10th (Open every day from July 17th to December 10th)
Location: 490-8 Taishakuuyama, Tojo-cho, Shobara city, Hiroshima prefecture
Guide Homepage: http://shobara-info.com/229 (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
Hironobu Matsuoka / Photo-writer Born in 1974 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and currently living there, Hironobu is the president of Mediapolis Inc. "I travel around the country in Solar King, an eco-camping car that has a solar power generator, and film the beautiful scenery of Japan in high-definition. I want to move around the country as much as possible and leave behind videos of precious Japanese nature and scenery for future generations to enjoy. Although I travel all over the country, I love my home area of Setouchi." 'Healing Japan TV' - Traveling virtually around the country through 'healing videos'.
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