Niimi is a city located in northwestern Okayama Prefecture, Japan.
Niimi is known for its limestone caves. They include:
- Ikura-do Cave
- Maki-do Cave
Two hundred forty-meter tall vertical precipice carved by a river. Two fantastic caves with different atmospheres.
Today, we make our way to Niimi to explore the depths of these caves.
Also, if you’re curious to see more caves in rural Japan, be sure to check out our previous posts – when we last visited the Wind Cave & Ice Cave in the Haunted Forest – at the foot of Mt. Fuji, in Chubu. Oh, and one more in Kamakura!!
Simply click these links to view them!
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Maki-do and Ikura-do Caves
The Maki-do and Ikura-do caves are situated in Niimi in northwestern Okayama.
The Maki-do Cave is a 450-meter-long limestone cave. It is relatively smaller than the Ikura-do Cave, but is characterized by an underground lake at the farthest end of the cave. The red Ryugu-bashi Bridge and the many other bridges built on the lake are illuminated to entertain visitors.
The Ikura-do Cave is located in the 240-meter tall vertical precipice formed by slow but long erosion of the limestone by the Takahashi-gawa River that runs from the spring near the border with Tottori Prefecture to Kurashiki City. The total length of the cave, one of three major limestone caves in Japan, is 1,200 meters.
There is a series of stalactites with various names, and you can enjoy a fantastic underground adventure. The area around the Ikura-do Cave is called Ikura-kyo, a beautiful ravine carved by the Takahashi-gawa River in the limestone plateau. It is also famous for beautifully colored leaves in autumn.
Ikura-do is an art of nature, built through everlasting time. Best described as a 1,200 meter-long cave with a legendary story of tragic love.
This is a 1,200 meter-long limestone cave designated as the Natural Monument of Okayama Prefecture. Ikura-do is a cave made through erosion of the limestone area by rainwater, etc. and is designated as part of the Okayama Prefectural Upper Takahashi River Natural Park. It is located on the banks of the Takahashi River, and its entrance is on the 240 meter-high sheer precipice.
Artistic stalactites, such as “Tsuraraishi” (Stalactite Like An Icicle) that extends from the ceiling and “Ishitakenoko” (Bamboo Shoot-Shaped Stalactite) like a bamboo sprouting, are beautifully lit up. There’s a whole lot of variety here, in terms of places of interest in about 40-minute course, such as 50 meter-high fall called “Chijiku no Taki” (Earth Axis Fall) and an underground lake named “Seto no Umi” (Sea Of Seto).
Very creative indeed!!
At the front of Ikurado Cave is a brink, an edge, a tip called “Arisabuchi” with a tragic legendary story. About 400 years ago, there were lovers, Mosaku and Arisa. A beautiful princess named Tsuruhime visited there, and captivated Mosaku.
Mosaku went to the capital in chase of Tsuruhime, and Arisa who was left behind killed herself by jumping off the edge and into Takahashi River. In years to come, the story spread and village people named the edge “Arisabuchi,” and built a shrine called “Arisa no Miya” in Ikurado Cave to honor Arisa.
Since then, Arisa has been worshipped and she’s believed to possess special powers to help people pair up romantically. She is now worshiped as a god of marriage and a guardian angel for lovers.
Inside the cave, the temperature in the cave is kept around 15 °C all year round. Yes, even during summer. So, be sure to wear a jacket even if you happen to visit the cave in the middle of summer.
We definitely enjoyed the mysterious atmosphere of the cave
Ikura-do is a spot you won’t want to miss. Please do visit someday, I’m sure you’ll love it!.
I’ll be listing the address to the Ikura-do below. Not too far away is Maki-do, only about 450-meters long, but more open and spacious. These caves are most easily accessed if you happen to drive.
Address: 409 Ikura, Niimi City
Opening Hours: 8:30am to 5pm (last admission 4:30pm)
9am to 4:00pm (January 1-4)
Access: 20min by car from Niimi IC
40min by car from Kayo IC
15min on foot from JR Ikura station
Admission fee: adults 1000yen, junior high school students 800yen, primary school students 500yen
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