The Caves of Gujo
By Monica E Doble. Posted on February 23, 2016
My friends and I went on a random road trip and headed for Gujo, a city in the middle of Gifu Prefecture that is also considered the central point of all Japan. The town of Gujo is already a sight to see, known for the Gujo Odori and as a village surrounded with clean water. It is also known for Gujo-Hachiman Castle, Jionji Temple, food replica-making, and several caves. To make the trip a little bit exciting, and since neither one of us had gone there yet, we decided to explore Otaki Cave and Jomon Cave, which are limestone caves in Gujo.
Our first stop was Otaki Limestone Cave (Otaki Shonyudo), which is one of the biggest limestone cave systems in the Tokai region. It wasn't difficult to locate via GPS, but the road going there is narrow and has a lot of curves, so driving with care is advisable. It's also not accessible by public transportation. You have to go by car or ride a taxi from the nearest train station, Gujo-Hachiman Station.
To reach the entrance of the cave, we rode the cable car. The entrance ticket for Otaki Cave is 1,000 yen and since we decided to go to Jomon Cave as well, we bought the package deal for the two tickets (1,300 yen for the two). You can also choose one that includes a meal from a nearby restaurant. We were soon filled with awe after entering the cave. There's a lot of limestone formations, and just thinking about the fact that it took hundreds (or millions) of years for stalactites and stalagmites to make those huge formations creates a sense of amazement about nature's works of art. You can play a little game with friends by naming these formations accordingto what they look like.
Otaki Cave is also home to one of the highest underground waterfalls in Japan, measuring 30 meters high. They installed lights inside the cave, and some stairs for easier access for the visitors. It is also suggested that visitors wear proper attire, and sneakers are preferred over wearing high heels since it could be slippery while navigating inside the cave. The time required to go through the cave is around 30 minutes.
Our tickets came with an opportunity to get a free omikuji (paper fortune) too. And I got myself a very, very lucky one. We decided to take a break and eat some dango (Japanese dumplings) before heading to our next stop. The place has a variety of restaurants, and there's one that allows you to catch some fish at the nearby pond (which later on they will cook for you as your meal).
Jomon Cave is a 10-15 minute car ride from Otaki Cave. We were the only ones there, since it was already late in the afternoon (maybe around 4 p.m.). Upon arriving, the caretaker gave us brief instructions and handed each one of us a flashlight. Unlike Otaki Cave, it is completely dark (and very cold) inside Jomon Cave. We even tried turning off all the lights from our flashlights while inside just to see how dark it would be. Aside from being a marvelous underground cave, Jomon Cave was also used as shelter during prehistoric times.
We had fun exploring for the day just like kids going on in a field trip. Not only did we enjoy it, we learned new stuff too. It was a different kind of adventure, filled with fun and laughter. Moreover, we were really glad we made it out in one piece.
Monica E Doble
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