Friday, January 31, 2014

Otaki caves

Before moving to Nagoya, we had not explored much of Chubu, the central region of Japan comprising the 10 prefectures of Aichi, Gifu, Mie,Nagano, Shizuoka, Ishikawa Toyama, Fukui, Yamanashi and Niigata. The region lies between Kanto (to the west) and Kansai (to the east). The region is further divided into 3 sub regions- Tokai, Hokuriku and Koshinetsu. Spreading over a wide part of Japan's main Honshu island, the Chubu region has a lot of natural scenic beauty and attracts a lot of visitors. This region also has a lot of history and culture which are unique to the region and can be an enriching experience for the tourist.

Gifu prefecture which neighbours Aichi prefecture where Nagoya is located is one such prefecture which has a lot for the tourist to explore. Since the Edo period, Gifu had occupied a place of prime importance since it connected Western Japan to Eastern Japan through the Nakanosendo route. Moreover, Gifu prefecture was considered the centre of sword making in Japan and the best swords were supposed to be produced in the prefecture's Seki town. 

Gifu prefecture is known for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go and the old preserved town of Takayama, the scenic Kiso valley and also for the unique cormorant fishing tradition among many other things. We began exploring Gifu prefecture with a day trip to Gujo.

Before visiting Gujo town, we decided to visit the Otaki cave which is a short distance away from Gujo town. The cave is known locally as Otaki Shunyudo.

Otaki cave is one of the largest limestone caves in the Tokai region and was formed over millions of years. The caves are about 2kms long of which only 700 meters is open to the public. A walking trail inside the cave takes visitors past waterfalls and stalactites. 
At 30 mtrs tall, the underground waterfall known as Otaki, after which the cave takes its name is the tallest underground waterfalls in Japan. 
It takes about 30 minutes at most to explore the cave.
Some unusual formations of stalactites have been given names which mean Decorated Cake and Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

Even in summer the temperature inside the cave is cool and refreshing. The caves have an all year round temperature of 14 deg C. 

The caves are uphill and a 'railway' carries visitors to the entrance of the cave. Visitors have to walk downhill after exploring the cave. Public transportation is available only up to Gujo town. Private vehicles or taxis are the only mode of transportation up to the cave.

The caves are a nice place to visit but do not match up to the experience of visiting the Abukuma cave and Irimizu cave in Fukushima Prefecture.

Address: Akuda 2298, Hachiman cho, Gujo, Gifu Prefecture

Phone: 0575-67-1331. 

Admission: 1000 yen (Adults) 800 yen (Junior High and High School students)
                   500 yen (Elementary school and above). 

Open: 8:30 to 17:00 

Closed : December 26th to January 31st. 

Parking: Available 

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