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I did not get accurate information on how to get to Akiyoshido Cave & the telephone no. I keyed into the GPS brought me to the Mine Tourism office instead.  Fortunately I met a young man fixing his jeep nearby & asked for directions. He went out of his way & led me to the cave’s entrance which was nearly 20mins drive away. I met a good Samaritan today!
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The distance from the parking area to the cave entrance is about 1 & a half km walk. Entrance fee to the cave is JP¥1,200 & it opens from 8:30am till 4:30pm daily.
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Emerald green waters,  beautiful moss covered rocks, a smallish waterfall & autumn colours in perfect harmony  adorning  the entrance of Aikyoshido Cave (秋芳洞).
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Akiyoshidai Plateau (秋吉台) & Akiyoshido Cave (秋芳洞) is notably Yamaguchi’s premier scenic spot & they are designated as a special natural treasure by the Japanese government. This area is a limestone plain & also a karst plateau that was formed by the movement of submarine volcanoes & the ocean plates over a span of 350 million years.
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The ground changes which formed Aikyoshidai Plateau (秋吉台) also created a huge limestone cave known as Akiyoshido Cavern (秋芳洞).  It is the largest limestone cave in Asia & it is an amazing experience as we enter here, the cave entrance Akiyoshido Iriguchi (秋芳洞入口).
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This section is known as  “One Hundred Saucers” Hyakumaizara (百枚皿) & it does resemble a whole lot of plates stacked up.
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This underground network stretches over 10km & branches out shaped like a Y,  but the route that we took was about a km long.  “The Big Mushroom” Omatsutake (大松茸).
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“Subogaki”  Straw wrapped Persimmon (苞柿) – the flowstone form what looks like strips of ‘khaki ribbons’ hence the descriptive name.
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“Thousand Rice Fields” Chimachida (千町田) where the cave takes a gradual bend bearing right & going up slope. LED lightings line the paved walk & there are sections where you have to negotiate stairways.
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The cave widens & opens up to a larger cavern which is about 100m in width & 80m in height at its highest ceiling point. The hanging stalactites in this section is known as “Hanging Umbrellas” Kasazukushi (傘尽くし) & they supposedly look like closed-up parasols hanging overhead.
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“Dry Falls” Karataki (空滝) – the semblance to a real cascading waterfall is uncanny here!
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“The Golden Pillar” Koganebashira (黄金柱) is really a sight to behold as it glows in the dark, perhaps with a little help from the lights. There is a myriad of colours at different angles of the column & it is evidently  minerals deposited over a long  time.
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A subterranean river runs through the cave & the sound of gushing waters can sometimes be heard & not seen & at this juncture a mini waterfall can be seen clearly  cascading downwards.
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We had a pleasant surprise as the Night Illumination of the Cave began just as we were about to leave when evening approached.
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“Mt Fuji of the Cave” Dounai Fuji (洞内富士). Water dripping from the ceiling formed this mount like stalagmite that resembles Mt Fuji. The vista is both beautiful & bizarre & it emanates an other-worldly vibe.
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“One Hundred Saucers” Hyakumaizara (百枚皿) awashed in rainbow hues which I like but some may find outright garish & prefer it “au naturel”. What is your take?
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Pretty reflections on the still water surface at the “Long Abyss” Nagafuchi (長淵).
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I was mesmerised by the changing hues & drawn by the peaceful atmosphere that made me  linger just a little longer – “Long Abyss” Nagafuchi (長淵)
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Exiting after spending about 90mins inside the cool cave which maintains an average temperature of 17°C throughout the year.

I thoroughly enjoyed this visit to Akiyoshido Cave to have a closer look at the speleothems which sometimes is strangely beautiful & at other times grotesque but they never fail to evoke some kind of reaction & a sense of wonderment at the beauty of nature.

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