Hours: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Price: 1200 yen
Parking: 500 yen
World heritage site: No
Are dogs allowed?
Yes, but as a rule you must not let dogs walk on the cave floors therefore you can only take them if you can carry them in your arms or take them inside a doggie bag.
Why come here?
Every time I hear the words “Japan’s largest…” or “Japan’s best…” or any phrase that promises a unique experience I want to go there. I cannot help it.
That’s why when I heard that the biggest limestone caves in Japan where in Yamaguchi prefecture I had to visit. They are called Akiyoshido caves (秋芳洞) and they are 19km long, however, only 1km is open to the public.
Not only that but near the caves there is also another Japan’s largest. I’m talking about Akiyoshidai (秋吉台) which is Japan’s largest karst plateau in Japan.
What’s a karst plateau? I didn’t know either so I googled it and this is what I got:
“Is a topography formed with the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite and gypsum.”
Entrance to Akiyoshidai is free and it’s open 24 hours a day.
Akiyoshido cave and Akiyoshidai plateau are located in a small and quiet town in Yamaguchi.
If you are used to traveling in Japan then you know that every single touristic spot has a little street in which all the usual stores sell the usual products. Soft cream cones, crepes and the typical Japanese ornaments and toys. The same everywhere.
Well, here in Akiyoshido they also sell small stones from the caves to make themselves unique.
But there is also another unique shop. The shop of an artist who sells his own paintings and something quite unique, grasshoppers made out of grass. They are really quite pretty. But you must be careful because this gentleman is a really good salesman! His talk entices you to buy, but not in a forced way, in fact you are glad to buy from him!
I ended up buying one of his drawings and my mom 3 of them. But he swears it’s an investment in our part because according to him when he becomes a famous painter these drawings will become so valuable and expensive that we could sell them for a good price. Oh, and by the way each painting now cost 1000 yen.
In case you go to Akiyoshido cave don’t forget to invest as well! Haha
After investing in our future, we finally got to the entrance of the caves and it was a beautiful sight. The entrance is surrounded by the bluest water I have ever seen, it’s like they put blue colorant in!
The cave is lit but its still dark especially if you want to take pictures. If you are taking a DSLR camera I think it would be a good idea to bring a tripod as well to avoid the horrible blurry photos.
The most impressive place inside the cave is called “Hyakumai-sara (百枚皿) which translated it means “100 plates” named like that because they resemble plates stacked one on top of the other. Nature is so artistic and beautiful.
I also liked how the cave walls reflect on the water as if it were a mirror.
But my favorite place of all was called “Maria Kannon (マリア観音)” or Deity Maria. I just got excited because I didn’t expect to see my name in here.
Walking through the cave doesn’t take too long, it can be done in 20 – 30 minutes.
After the cave we went to Akiyoshidai plateau, it was a bit far so it was easier for us to go by car.
I believe them when they say the largest karst plateau because it extended into the horizon for as far as the eye could see. All you see is majestic white rocks coming out of green grass. I have never seen anything like it, but the wind can get quite strong in there.
And that was our day traveling by camper. If I ever complained about camper van travel then I take it back, for there is no better way to travel. It is almost exclusively the only way to travel that gives such a sense of freedom to easily go anywhere you want relatively easy and also allows you to rest whenever you choose to because your travel transportation happens to also be your home.
And the best part of all is the fact that Whiskey our dog can also travel with us with so much ease.
That said, our trip keeps going. After Yamaguchi we headed down to Kyuushu, the southern part of Japan. We crossed the Kanmon Bridge (関門橋) which is the bridge that connects Yamaguchi prefecture with Fukuoka Prefecture. And for the first time for all of us we stepped into Kyuushu with lots of excitement and energy.
To celebrate our breach into unknown territories we had a bowl of ramen. Even though it wasn’t the famous Hakata ramen in Fukuoka it was still pretty damn delicious.