Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Abukuma-do and Irimizu Caves

Tamura city in  Fukushima prefecture is home to two famous limestone caves- Abukuma do and Irimizu cave.
Of both the caves, Abukuma-do happens to be the more famous one. The cave was discovered on 15th August, 1969 during the course of limestone quarrying . It has been designated a natural heritage. Visitors can walk along the 600 metre long trail inside the cave, viewing the stalactite and stalagmite formations.

It is said that these stalactites and stalagmites have been formed over a period of 80 million years. A further 2500 metres of the cave are not yet open to public.
Limestone formations of various sizes and shapes can be seen inside the cave.

The colourful lights adds to the beauty of the formations in the cave.

Some spectacular formations have interesting names too , like Mushroom, Christmas tree, Monster Tower, Takine Palace to name a few. 

The temperature inside the cave is around 15 deg C all year round with a humidity of about 90 %. Even in summer, it is advisable to wear a jacket inside the cave. The trail is slippery due to the trickling water drops.

There is also a small Japanese style garden near the cave.
The Hoshi no Mura, Star observatory is located very close to the Abukuma cave. 
Cute statues dot the landscape around the cave and the observatory. 

Lavender bushes cover the hillsides near the cave. 
The high viewpoint outside Abukuma cave, offers a good view of the area around.

Open Hours: 8:30-17:00 (closing 16:30 from Dec-Jan)

Address: 1, Higashikamayama, Sugaya, Takine machi, Tamura-city, Fukushima Prefecture

Phone: 0247-78-2125

Entrance fees : Adults 1200 yen, Children 600 yen

Parking: Available

Just a 15 minute drive along the countryside from Abukuma-do is another set of caves. 

Irimizu Shonyudo as the caves are known were discovered much before Abukuma-do, in 1927. 
These have been designated National Natural Treasure. The caves are also called Sunken Caves.
These caves do not have spectacular stalagmites and stalactites like Abukuma. Instead, inside can be seen waterfalls, flowing rivers and rock formations.   

Irimizu Cave has been divided into 3 courses- Trail A,B and C and covers a distance of 900 metres. Trail A is relatively easy and short at 150 metres. Visitors are allowed to enjoy this trail on their own. 
Trail B at 450 metres is more treacherous  and requires special clothing and boots as certain sections require walking in knee deep water. Trail C at 300 metres is the toughest and visitors need to take a guided tour of this trail.
Even the “easy” Trail A has a few difficult stretches- low ceiling, narrow passage, steep metal stairways and walking through flowing water. 

I am amazed at how the workmen had fit these stairways, where we found it difficult to even stand straight. 

We had our then 3 year old daughter with us, who felt she was "Spiderman”.

Irimizu cave is for people who are looking for adventure. 

Open Hours:

Address: 89-3, Sugaya, Takine machi, Tamura city, Fukushima Prefecture- 963-3601

Phone: 0247-78-3393

Entrance fees: Differs as per the Trail course
                       Trail A : Adults 550 yen, Children 450 yen
                       Trail B: Adults 700 yen, Children 500 yen
                       Trail C: Adults 4600 (incl Guide services). Children not allowed.

Parking: Available (limited)


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I read your page before going to the caves and it was really helpful!

    1. Thank you for the feedback. I am glad you found my post useful.