Ryusendo Cave in Iwate Prefecture

Beat the summer heat in one of Japan’s three great limestone caves, Ryusendo Cave, as it stays at a temperature of 10°C all year round. The cave’s main highlights are its extremely clear and vibrantly coloured “dragon blue” lakes, rare bat sightings, and its unique stalactite and stalagmite formations.

ryusendo cave - illuminated caves
Image credit: @jamaicanese99

Peculiar rock formations

Ryusendo Cave, dubbed the “Cave of the Dragon Spring”, is home to many unique geological formations and known for rare bat sightings.

ryusendo cave - silent waterfall
Rock formation named “Silent Waterfall”.
Image credit: @dai_363

Visitors can snag photos of unique rock formations with witty names – one such example is the “Silent Waterfall”, which looks just like the real thing, except it’s silent and unmoving.

ryusendo cave - jizo rock
Rock formation that resembles a jizo statue
Image credit: @dai_363

There is also a stalagmite formation that looks like jizō (地蔵) – a known protector of children, travellers, and the underworld – and it’s called jizo iwa (地蔵岩), which translates to “jizo rock”.

Rare bat sightings

ryusendo cave - bat
Image credit: @vitamin_jam

There are five different species of bats in Ryusendo cave: greater horseshoe bat, little Japanese horseshoe bat, Eastern long-fingered bat, tube-nosed bat, and the Japanese long eared bat. 

Although these bats may be difficult to spot at first glance, once your eyes adjust to the darkness, you can spot them hanging and chilling just above your head.

Ryusendo’s “Dragon Blue” lakes

ryusendo cave - dragon blue lake
Image credit: @keiya_travel.0512

Ryusendo Cave has eight freshwater lakes, but only three are made accessible to the public. One of the lakes is actually the deepest underground lake in Japan, standing at 120m deep. 

ryusendo cave - fresh spring water
Image credit: @anat.feldman

Unfortunately, the 120m-deep lake is not available for public viewing. But fret not as the other lakes are just as impressive.

Fresh spring water from the cave

The spring water from Ryusendo Cave is so fresh and rich in minerals that it won the Gold award at Monde Selection, a non-competitive award that evaluates the quality of consumer products.  

ryusendo cave - drinkable spring water
Image credit: Ryusendo Cave Office – 龍泉洞

There is a drinking fountain near the entrance of Ryusendo Cave that allows visitors to quench their thirst with the fresh spring water from the cave itself. The spring water is available for purchase in bottles at Ryusendo Tourist Centre, the souvenir shop.

Ryusendo Cave, a natural sight to behold

For something to do besides cafe hopping, shopping, and eating everything in sight, head to Ryusendo Cave for a unique adventure. Encountering hibernating bats, drinking fresh spring water packed with minerals, and descending deep into the chilling darkness will truly be an unforgettable experience.

Getting there: The cave is a two hour and 15 minutes bus ride from Morioka Station. Private parking is available for those who choose to drive there.

Address: Kannari-1 Iwaizumi, Shimohei District, 027-0501 Iwate Prefecture
Admission fee: ¥1,100 (~USD9.66) for adults; ¥550 (~USD4.83) for elementary and junior high students; free for preschoolers
Time: 9AM-4PM, Daily
Telephone: 0194-22-2566

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Cover image adapted from: @keiya_travel.0512, @anat.feldman, and @kascha.lys

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