On the fourth day, we left Hachinohe and arrived at our final destination, Morioka in Iwate prefecture. However, we left exploring Iwate’s largest city for the final day. The aim for today was to visit Ryusendo Cave in Iwaizumi, one of the largest limestone caves in Japan. A JR-operated highway infrequently connects Morioka and Iwaizumi in 2.5 hours. The ride costs about 3000 yen and is fully covered by the Tohoku and Japan Rail Passes.

While the ride was not a short one, we traversed a mountainous rural area of Iwate, offering many opportunities for photos. This time, we could not visit Hiraizumi because of the bus schedule but I would like to come back here too, maybe in a warmer season.

Ryusendo Cave is among Japan’s three largest limestone caves, together with Akioshi Cave in Yamaguchi prefecture and Ryugado Cave in Kochi prefecture. The cave is estimated to reach a length of 5 km, significant parts remain unexplored until this day. A circular path of 700 meters in length has been created to allow visitors to explore the cave on foot without specialized equipment, ladders, or ropes.

Wooden bridges have been precisely fitted to the natural shape of the cave, which allowed us to pass over the underground river and lake with ease. At the same time, minimal use of lights and installations preserved the mystical feeling of this natural reserve. Due to the high humidity, water drops trickled down on us from countless stalactites formed over thousands of years.

The cave is also a habitat for bats. A highlight is the three underground lakes that have depths approaching 100 meters. The water was crystal clear and allowed to see to the bottom of the lake.

Visiting the cave became an unforgettable memory. I definitely want to visit it again. Adjacent to the cave is a second smaller one with more exhibits and explanations about the history of the caves.

In the evening, we arrived back in Morioka and began looking for dinner. Iwate is also known for its prized seafood, so we chose an izakaya specializing in sashimi. Soon mouth-watering plates of various Pacific fish and enormous oysters stood in front of us. We rounded off the evening with a visit to the cinema.

The next morning, we started early to visit the morning market and explore Morioka.

Descending into the Dragon Cave (Tohoku in Winter 4/5)
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