Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yugendo Cave

As I wrote in the previous post, on 1st August hubby and I had been to Iwate prefecture and visited Geibikei Gorge. After that we visited Yugendo Cave which is about 1.5 kilometers away from the gorge and it took us only 3 minutes to reach near the cave by our car.

Yugendo Cave is a limestone cave located in Higashiyama town of Iwate prefecture. The cave has a stratum of the mid-Paleozoic era which indicates that the cave is about 350 million years old and was once 50 meters below sea level. The cave is famous for various speleothems like stalactite, pillar, soda straw, stalagmite, and flowstone. Fossils of crinoids (sea lilies), trilobites, corals, and many more creatures of early earth have been exposed in the interesting rock formations found in the cave. Some of these fossils are displayed in an exhibition hall located adjacent to the cave. The cave was discovered in 1980 and is probably the oldest limestone cave in Japan. Various interesting features of the stratum of mid-Paleozoic era can be seen inside the cave. The length of the cave is about 500 meters and the temperature inside is about 13 degrees Celsius.

On reaching the site of Yugendo Cave, we purchased tickets worth 1000 Yen per person as admission fee for the cave. First we went to an exhibition hall where many posters and study materials were kept that explained about the history of the cave as well as various rock formations and fossils found in the cave. After spending a few minutes at the exhibition hall, we walked up to the mouth of the cave and entered inside.
I am standing inside the exhibition hall

I am walking towards the mouth of the cave

Hubby standing next to a Japanese style entrance gate located near the mouth of the cave

After walking for a few minutes inside the cave, we saw beautiful looking stalagmite formation named Hounyujoudo. There are many stalagmites near the mouth of the cave.
Hubby walking inside the cave



Next, we started walking down the steps inside the cave. There are many stairs and ladders throughout the cave, and therefore it was rather easy to walk inside. After walking down the steps for about five minutes, we reached a point where a Buddhist statue of Suigetsu Kannon is enshrined. There is a small underground lake adjacent to the statue.
Hubby walking down the steps inside the cave

I am walking down the steps inside the cave

Steps leading down inside the cave

Statue of Suigetsu Kannon and a small underground lake on the right side

On walking further, we noticed that the cave became rather narrow. The walls of the cave were really smooth and cold. After walking for some time, we reached a point where we had to climb up the narrow staircase surrounded by rocky walls of the cave.
Narrow portion of the cave

The wall of the cave was cold

I am climbing up the narrow staircase inside the cave

Hubby climbing up the narrow staircase

Soon we reached an underground lake named Joukon-no-izumi. The lake is located 10 meters under the ground level and has emerald green water. It was so pleasing to the eyes. We spent about 10 minutes here and enjoyed the lake and various interesting rock formations near the lake.
I am standing next to an information board that explains about the underground lake Joukon-no-izumi

Emerald green water of Joukon-no-izumi

Joukon-no-izumi and rocks

Another view of interesting rock formations and Joukon-no-izumi

The lighting arrangement inside the cave gives the rocks a mysterious look

From this point onwards, we again started walking down the steps. Next, on our way, we saw a Buddhist statue named Yugendo Kannon. A rock pillar formed on a nearby wall of the cave is said to resemble Buddha, and therefore a statue of Yugendo Kannon was enshrined here. I prayed in front of the statue and then we moved on.
I am praying in front of Yugendo Kannon

Adjacent to the statue of Buddha, we saw a cute stalagmite formation named Juroku-rakan. Next to this, we saw another rock formation named Toun-no-ryu which looks like a dragon spewing out cloud.


On walking further, we noticed that the path inside the cave widened slightly. We appreciated and discussed various interesting rock formations that surrounded us while walking inside the cave. We again came across three Buddhist statues on our way.
Hubby walking inside the cave

I am walking inside the cave

Interesting rock formation inside the cave

Three Buddhist statues

Rocks inside the cave

Rocks inside the cave

Soon we reached the last stretch inside the cave. Here we had to climb up the stairs and then we came out of the cave after spending about 45 minutes surrounded by history and dramatic adventure of mid-Paleozoic era.

Hubby walked up the steps and almost reached the exit of the cave

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