Need an escape from the summer heat or the winter chill? Why not go caving? The temperature inside the Ryugashido Cavern in Inasa-Cho in Hamamatsu City (that’s in Shizuoka Prefecture not Tokyo) hovers around 18Cº all year long. This 250 million year old 1,064m long cave is one of the largest in Japan, and you don’t need any special equipment to enjoy it. 400m of the cave have been developed and outfitted with lighting and a safe path to walk on. It’s a place you can take the whole family.
Stalagmites and stalactites of all shapes and sizes, multi-colored stone walls, and limestone rooms littered with amazing rock formations, await you. The centerpiece of it all is the Grand Golden Waterfall, a 30 meter tall underground cascade that flows all year long. The lighting in the cave makes the water droplets pouring off the falls glimmer like gold dust, hence the name.
At the entrance to the Ryugashido is a cold foot bath filled with the crystal clear water from cave. It’s a great way to cool off. Telling your friends that it’s a foot spa is also a great joke. The ice cream served in the obligatory restaurant and souvenir shop is some of the best ice cream I’ve eaten in Japan. They make it fresh everyday. Winter or summer, it’s the perfect way to finish off your caving expedition.
The Ryugashido is in the mountains to the northwest of central Hamamatsu City. Get an Okuyama (奥山) bound bus from the bus center at the north entrance of Hamamatsu Station and take it all the way to the Ryugashido Iriguchi (竜ヶ岩洞入り口), a ride of about 50 minutes and a fare of about ¥600 each way. Alternatively, one could take the Tokkaido Line to Senjohara and transfer to the Tenryu-Hamanako Line to enjoy views of Lake Hamana and the mountains on their way to the Ryugashido; get off at Kanasashi Station and walk to the bus stop on the main street (near the large Valor Supermarket) for the remainder of the ride to the Ryugashido (train fare ¥1090 each way).
Ready for your caving expedition? Happy travels!