September 27, 2010

Trippy Cave

Abukuma-do (Abukuma Cave) in Fukushima is one of the last places where you'd expect to have a trippy experience. A 600-meter long path of stalagmites and stalactites, the cave was discovered in 1969 and subsequently opened to the public.

Go down to the caves and you're immediately struck by how cold it is (15°C). In the past 80 million years, the limestone has formed oddly recognizable formations. This cluster of face-like limestone is dubbed "deities".

"Moonlight Waterfall"

In terms of hospitality, the cave is somewhat of a rarity in Japanese tourist spots, even those that consider protecting the natural environment above visitor comfort. A certain point into the cave, the path splits into two: the normal course and the "exploration course". (The former costs ¥1,200 yen as opposed to the latter's ¥1,400.) From then on, it's virtually impossible to get through the caves without 1) almost falling into narrow river that snakes beside the path 2) finding yourself nearly trapped as you squeeze through the narrowest of crevices 3) hitting your head hard as you make yourself into a ball to pass through low spaces. The fend-for-yourself attitude is quite refreshing in a country that is overly instructive, and is no doubt a large part of the cave's appeal.

But the cave's main selling point is the large hollow close to the end of the trail. My immediate reference was the Emerald City in Wizard of Oz. Strategically placed lights give the formations an otherworldly air, and the cathedral-like "ceiling" and oddly human-looking formations give you a whiff of religion.

Go higher and higher and you're back to reality again.

1 comment:

Tornadoes28 said...

Beautiful photos. Caves can be the most amazing places, especially with the right lighting.