When we think of natural beauty, we tend to think of sweeping landscapes, mesmerising sunsets, changing leaves, or splendid mountain scenery. Some of the most interesting beauty, however, can lay deep below the surface of the world we know.
I had the chance to visit Ryugashido Cave 竜ヶ岩洞 in Hammamatsu recently and was astonished at the vast beauty that lies beneath the surface.
Believed to have been formed about 250 million years ago, and according to legend, once home to a Dragon (hence the name; Ryo = Dragon in Japanese), this amazing cave near Hammamatsu in Shizouka, Japan has some spectacular beauty deep inside the earth.
Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated by wondrous places such as this, and because I hadn’t been to any caves in Japan yet, I was quite eager to have the chance to explore this underground world, which isn’t too far from Nagoya and easily accessible by train and bus.
This cave has been known to the locals since 1912, but wasn’t really explored until 1981, when two amateur spelunkers dared to venture past the initial, small opening. They had to work very hard in adverse condition to make the opening wide and long enough to pass through and into the cave, but eventually they broke through, revealing the wondrous world on the other side. While exploring the cave further, they had to pass through several narrow and difficult points, but finally, in November they reached the largest cavern. The unknown world that had been dormant under the earth and unexplored for 250 million years materialised before their eyes more and more. Finally, in December 1981 the spelunkers reached the 30m tall “Golden Waterfall”.
The next two and a half years after the discovery of the “Golden Waterfall” were spent investigating and developing the cave route. The total length of the cave was discovered to be about 1000 meters total. Eventually, in October of 1983, the cave was opened to the public.
From the Outside, it doesn’t look like much, but once you set foot inside and start to descent into the abyss, you realise that you’re about to see something truly amazing.
Ryugashido is the largest Limestone Stalagtite Cave in Tokai with about 50 observation points inside.
Over the next 400m, the meandering pathway leads you through the mountain, alongside outlandish-looking stone formations, water reservoirs and the aforementioned 30m tall underground Waterfall.
The entire “journey” takes about 30minutes, depending on how much time you spend in the depths, admiring the vivid tapestry of shapes and colours before your eyes. It’s certainly a memorable experience and can be fun for the whole family.
If you’d like more information about this place, and how to get there, here’s an English Pamphlet for you to download at your leisure:
There’s even some truly unique ice-cream to be had. Materia Gelato, made from local Inasa milk and seasonal fruits and vegetables, is hugely popular with cavers and was voted the number one ice cream by Shizuoka bus guides.
So, whether you’re the adventurous type who likes exploring new things, or are just looking for a way to spend a couple of hours near Hammamatsu, you’ll surely enjoy your time at this cave.