This one is not for the claustrophobic! The mountainous islands which make up Japan hold some fascinating underground secrets, not least of which are the “Three Great Limestone Caves.” Ryusendo Cave is one of them and thankfully it’s open to the public, so you can delve down into its strange subterranean world.
Located near the town of Iwaizumi, you can reach Ryusendo Cave by bus in about 2 hours from the prefectural capital of Morioka. The tour of the caves takes around 30 minutes, and covers a route of around 700 meters of tunnels, walkways, and caverns.
Amazingly, that’s less than a quarter of the 3.1km explored portion of the caves, with an estimated 2km still undiscovered. That’s right, geologists have been investigating this vast site since the 1920s and still haven’t fully charted it.
Even if you consider yourself a person of science and/or an Indiana Jones-esque adventurer, we recommend you don’t go wandering off towards the uncharted portions. The guided tour will give you plenty of adventure anyway!
You’ll see some incredibly deep underwater lakes with incredibly blue waters stretching down up to 120 meters, rare species of bats hanging from the ceiling, and impressive stalactites and stalagmites dotting the floors and ceilings.
If that all sounds completely terrifying to you, don’t worry; the caverns are actually quite easy to make your way through. Fairly spacious walkways and handrails mean you can just focus on being fascinated, not fearful!