When it comes to the best weather and conditions for most travelers and hikers, nothing beats a sunny and dry day. However, what you get is not always what you seek. Especially in Japan, there is a rainy season, which lasts from June through July in general and is extremely humid all day. The Nippara limestone caves are the best place to cool off while exploring a historical site in Tokyo.
Nippara limestone caves are situated in Okutama, west of Tokyo, and were formed hundreds of thousands of years ago. The caves, like a natural work of art, are fully illuminated and produce a serene atmosphere. In fact, Nippara limestone caves used to be a special destination for nature worship and were a sacred site for Shugendo around the Kamakura period (1185–1333).
A stalactite that drops from the ceiling takes roughly 70 years to form one centimeter, and about 130 years for a stalagmite that hardens and accumulates on the floor. The breathtakingly beautiful stalactites exhibit the power of nature and make you feel rejuvenated while strolling inside the caves.
As the largest cave in the Tokyo region, it spans about 1,200 meters in total. Although it can take around 40 minutes to completely explore the caverns, it’s recommended to set aside more than an hour. The inside is proportionately dark, slippery, and bumpy, so it is recommended to take your time. Those who enjoy taking images and films may want additional lighting and stable tripods.
Visitors with children or the elderly should be advised that the walk contains several stairs.
The natural healing spot is constantly eleven degrees (52°F) all year around. It depends on how you feel at eleven degrees in general, but it may be cooler than you expect when you go there in the summer, so pack a long sleeve just in case.
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If you have spare time before leaving the Okurama area, there is a short strolling path along the Nippara river called the Hikawa Gorge Trail (氷川渓谷遊歩道). There are a few hiking courses ranging in length from half an hour to three hours. Even though it is a short trail, you will enjoy forest bathing.
Nippara Limestone Caves (Nippara Shonyudo: 日原鍾乳洞) The caves are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from April to November and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from December to March.
The admission fee is ¥900 for adults aged 16 and above; ¥600 for junior high school students; and ¥500 for children aged 6 to 12. (As of June 2023)