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On a Muggy and Gloomy Day in Tokyo?

Visit the Sacred Cave with over 1,200 Years of History

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.

The entrance of Nippara limestone caves
The entrance of Nippara limestone caves
The Mountain of Death, one of the picturesque spots
The Mountain of Death, one of the picturesque spots

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 tranquil atmosphere for wandering
A tranquil atmosphere for wandering

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.

The cave’s temperature is about 11°C all year, with cool summers and warm winters
The cave’s temperature is about 11°C all year, with cool summers and warm winters
The water is dropping, and the paths are wet
The water is dropping, and the paths are wet

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.

One of steep stairs inside the cave
One of steep stairs inside the cave

Visitors with children or the elderly should be advised that the walk contains several stairs.

A colouful limestone cave, at the death mountain
A colouful limestone cave, at the death mountain

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.

A small waterfall nearby the caves
A small waterfall nearby the caves

Article about Okutama town

Okutama Town - History & Landmarks

Okutama Town - History & Landmarks

Okutama Town is one of Tokyo's most beautifully natural locations. Its history & landmarks include Hikawako Bridge, Hyakuhiro-no-Taki..

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Okutama station
Okutama station

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.

The sign of the Hikawa Gorge trail
The sign of the Hikawa Gorge trail
A forest bath; a serene stroll along the Nippara River
A forest bath; a serene stroll along the Nippara River
Along the Nippara River, you may go hiking, fishing, barbecuing, and camping
Along the Nippara River, you may go hiking, fishing, barbecuing, and camping

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)

Buses #20 and #21 (as shown in the photo) stop in front of the station
Buses #20 and #21 (as shown in the photo) stop in front of the station

Getting there

JR Okutama Station is the nearest train station. On weekdays, you will be able to ride Bus #20, which is heading to Shonyudo. Nippara Limestone Cave is a 5-minute walk from the Shonyudo bus stop. However, on weekends, holidays, and in August, only Bus #21 runs for Higashi Nippara, which is about 30 minutes on foot away from the Higashi Nippara bus stop.

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