When offered a free trip to a hill region famous for its limestone, as a foreign traveller, it is one's duty to accept the offer - no matter how disinterested one might be in geology. One must absolutely say "yes" no matter how difficult it is to deliver - with any measurable amount of sincerity - the line, "Did you say limestone?!?! Oh yes, limestone is my very favorite of all of the stones. Let us away!"
|After all, one never knows what is lurking beneath the monolith-littered hillsides.|
Had the verdure of the hills and the impressive concentration of limestone been the highlight of this Japanese mini-adventure, as a nature lover, I would have been satisfied. What?! I do love nature - looking at it, reading about it, hearing other people's stories. Yes, I love nature as long as there is a hospital and a clean restroom within twenty-five miles.
|We went on a beautiful nature walk as the afternoon sun did its best to |
break through the clouds and the leafy canopy of the subtropical forest.
We stopped for a breather when Nami asked us if we were interested in exploring a cave. I honestly think she waited to reveal the surprise cave as a test of our loyalty...apparently we passed the test with our utterly-convincing portrayal of limestone enthusiasts.
|Mary, Masa, and Mr. Tiny at the Shonyudo Cave marker.|
I asked Nami what the rock said and her reply was, "It's too hard."
What else would a rock say?
After my intrepid exploits in The Lost World Caverns of West Virginia, I have come to fancy myself quite the spelunker. My second cave on my second continent - I think it's time to start writing that cave-safety book!
|The entrance to the cave has all of the Japanese character for which |
a tourist could ask - waterfall, trickling stream, and arch bridge.
|A cadre of religious icons flank the mouth of Shonyudo Cave.|
I was hoping that it was more a testament to the sacredness of the
ground and less a last-ditch prayer to avoid a calamitous cave-in.
|More disconcerting than the thought of being trapped in a cave was |
the communal sandals which we were forced to don in order to enter.
Fortunately, the largest pair fit.
|The cave was welcoming in its beauty;|
It all started out so dry and so level...
|We were so taken by the stalactites, rock formations, and underground gardens, |
that we almost missed the cave river. As soon as we saw it, Nami let us in on the
second surprise of the day - the rest of the cave adventure would be done in the river!
|I don't look like I'm having as much fun as Mary, but really, I am.|
Visiting Shonyudo Cave was a unanimous favorite of our trip to Japan.
|Then we retraced our steps and celebrated that we made it out alive - drenched to the knee but very much alive.|
We had a few slips, slides, and two-broken sandals (me) along the way but never once thought about the traveler's insurance we did not get until we had made it out unscathed.
|Feeling lucky to have made it out without incident or |
accident, we added a few coins to the pile - a small
price to pay for so many great cave memories!
Have you ever been exploring in a cave? Do you think head-to-toe denim is appropriate cave exploring attire?