Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Exploring the Stalactite Cave on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa
Written by LIFE STYLE, Inc.
This article features the stalactite cave on Ishigaki Island, the southernmost island in Japan. We will explore the cave virtually using Google Streetview.
Do you know what a stalactite cave is? It is a beautiful limestone cave carved by both the surface and underground waters.
There are numerous stalactite caves in Japan, from the Iwate prefecture in the north to the Okinawa prefecture in the south. This article is about the southernmost cave in Japan, the Ishigaki Stalactite Cave located on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa.
We will explore the cave with the help of Google Streetview.
A Stalactite Cave in a Tourist Resort
Ishigaki Island belongs to the Yaeyama Archipelago, which consists of 10 islands.
The Ishigaki Stalactite Cave
The cave, one of the sightseeing spots of the island, is well-known but only to few. 200,000 years ago the island was still deep under water and it has taken a thousands and thousands of years for it to take its current shape.
Let's take a look inside using Google Streetview.
On to The Expedition
The actual cave is 3.2 kilometers long, and Streetview shows about one-fifth of that distance. It takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, with no dull moment along the way.
This is the entrance, located at the end of a long, straight path from the parking lot. It makes you feel like that you're about to enter an entirely different world.
Click the back of the screen, and the view will move forward through the gate.
Keep going forward and a stairway running through the overgrowing plants will appear. The southern flora heightens the mood of the expedition participants, as the cave starts below the stairs.
Click on the screen to move forward, and drag to view the surroundings.
The Fastest Growing Stalactites in Japan
After a while, the stalactites begin to appear. They are common in these kind of caves, looking like icicles hanging down from the ceiling.
The Ishigaki Cave is famous for the fast growth of the stalactites. While the usual growth speed is one millimeter in 10 to 30 years, it is one millimeter in three years in this cave.
There are some illuminated spots inside the cave, adding to the mystic atmosphere.
The Lake of Longevity
This is the Lake of Longevity. The surface, illuminated in a green color, is mesmerizing and you might start to feel like you're going to be sucked into the lake.
This is Ochitetamaruka (literally meaning: I won't fall) near the Lake of Longevity. A stalactite broke for some reason, but has remained suspended on top of the limestone below. It is known also as the "never-falling rock."
The word for falling, ochiru, in Japanese also means to fail entrance examinations. So, the "never-falling rock" has become a symbol of good luck to the students preparing for exams, and many of them visit this cave to pray for success.
This is the Totoro Stalactite, which has become a famous photography opportunity for visitors. What looks like the standing ears reminds us of a certain animation character! It's amazing that mother nature created this shape and just proves what kind of amazing things this cave holds.
The Ishigaki Stalactite Cave is fascinating destination for those who know about it, but only few do! It is full of unique spots with a mystic atmosphere, such as the Lake of Longevity and Ochitetamaruka that we just took a look at. If you have the chance to visit Ishigaki Island, the cave is definitely worth checking out.
Ishigaki Stalactite Cave
Address: Okinawa-ken, Ishigaki-shi, Ishigaki 1666
Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. (The entrance closes at 6:00 p.m.)
Closed: There are no closed days.
Pamphlets Available In: English
Access: 8-minute car ride from Ishigaki City. 30-minute car ride from the Ishigaki Airport.
Admission Fee: Adults 1,080 yen. Children 540 yen.
Official Site: Ishigaki Stalactite Cave