Translated by Jelena Kitamura
The Narusawa Ice Cave, Mt. Fuji: Explore The Eternal Kingdom Of Ice
You must have heard of Mt. Fuji, but did you know it is still considered to be an active volcano? Thanks to an eruption from the past, we can visit many caves that exist nearby. Today we introduce the Narusawa Ice Cave, covered in ice all year long.
Written by Maki
Everybody has heard of, or had the luck to see, the world-renowned symbol of Japan, Mt. Fuji. Mt. Fuji is considered to be an active volcano even in the present time, and there are some remnants of its previous eruptions and events that remain to this day: the caves nearby this mountain.
Among these there are some that stand out because of their peculiar shape or other features, such as caves where one can admire the ice pillars that have been accumulating in the cave for decades, or one which is famous for its chilly average temperature of only 3 degree Celsius, thanks to the cold winds constantly blowing inside.
This time, we will take you to the cave where you can witness astounding ice formations glimmering in the darkness – the Narusawa Ice Cave.
The Cave with a Cool Atmosphere
Narusawa Ice Cave is located in the eastern part of the Aokigahara Forest, at the foot of the Mt. Fuji. It is also quite close to the Five Fuji Lakes, so it is often visited by many tourists.
The Fugaku Wind Cave we mentioned earlier is just about one kilometer away from Narusawa, and it shouldn’t take more than 13 minutes by foot to get there. You can explore the two famous caverns at one go and make some wonderful memories witnessing the wonders of nature.
Narusawa Ice Cave is considered a natural monument of Japan. It is a pit-type cave that was created by molten lava flowing after one of Mt. Fuji’s eruptions that occurred more than 1150 years ago.
The cavern is quite chilly throughout the whole year, with an average temperature of 3 degrees Celsius. We were welcomed by a temperature of 0 degrees, and we could feel the cave’s refreshing atmosphere even while standing at the entrance to the cave. A little warning – if you intend to visit this wonderful sight, it might be too cold to come wearing just a t-shirt.
Crawling Through the Narrow Twisted Cave
The cave is about 150m long, and as it is a ring-formation type, you can stroll (or crawl) a full circle through it. As you proceed deeper into it, you’ll find it twisting and curling with naturally formed slopes all around you, and, as there might be passages where the ceiling is unbelievably low, you might want to watch out for your head so you can end your expedition without any bumps or painful bruises.
The part of the cave where the rock pillars have beautifully formed is rugged and the surface is quite uneven. Although there are handrails installed inside of the cave, it shouldn't be hard to believe that the ground is quite slippery thanks to the water constantly dripping from the ceiling. It is of utter importance to watch out for both your head and your feet as you advance further on.
Now, you can also see that the path has become truly narrow. This is the tunnel of the lava flow, and it marks the place where once, about 1100 years ago, a gigantic tree was growing. As the tunnel’s ceiling is only 91cm high, it is necessary to proceed in a crouched position and sideways.
It is easier to imagine the size of the passage if you know that it is barely possible for a grown man to crawl through it and since the path is steep and the water slippery, it is indeed difficult to go on at a quick pace.
The narrowest part of the cave requires you to proceed while crouching completely. The cave’s dim ambiance mixed with the shimmering of the rock formations really makes it look like you’re about to get crushed by those cold, sharp walls.
The Magical Area of the Ice Pillars
As you successfully pass through the most difficult and narrow part, you should be able to witness this cave’s ice walls. It is said that this area was once used for storage and preservation of food, as there were no refrigerators, so, in order to reconstruct that look, you can now see ice blocks piled up one on top of another.
On the opposite side of the space, you can see the gorgeous ice pillars striking from the ground. The interesting shapes of the ice formation lit up appear almost like jewels glittering in the night, and this sight, combined with the chilly air flowing through the cave, make this area appear as though it were a scene from a dream, a magical world existing on its own.
The ice pillars form as water droplets fall to the ground and freeze over time, one chilly drop over another. The whole process lasts throughout the winter and is said to have reached its maximum around April, so sometimes one might even witness the superb gigantic ice pillars reaching up to 3 meters high, rising from the ground in an astonishing show of nature’s wonders.
This room with the ice pillars is actually the turning point of the cave’s path. As you climb the stairs further on, bright green scenery will appear in front of you – the forest and its beautiful colors. You have finally reached the exit - the whole adventure has actually lasted for about 15 minutes.
Although we were moving about and having to exercise quite a bit to see this cave, the writer's skin felt strikingly cold afterwards, and the warm air outside in the forest was very welcome.
Come Visit Narusawa Ice Cave
Without a doubt, the ice formations in this cave were a very worthwhile and certainly unforgettable part of the trek, but we can tell you that it was also fun crouching down and trying to get through the narrow, steep passages of the cave. What’s more, it will surely make a great contrast to head down to the cave during the hot summer days, as the air down there will have you feeling refreshed and chilly in no time.
How about adding the Narusawa Ice Cave to your Mt. Fuji exploring itinerary, together with visiting the Five Fuji Lakes or the Fugaku Wind Cave?