Mysterious Maki-do Cave
In the hot and humid Japanese summer it is nice to find ways to escape the heat. A trip to a beautiful natural limestone Makido Cave in Okayama Prefecture is a great choice for a day trip! The cave is refreshingly cool and its darkness offers a nice break from the sun, a peace of mind for an hour or two.
The cave is in the Prefectural Nature Park of Niimi Village. The cave entrance is located on a hill, which can be accessed by climbing up from the parking lot. The distance is not too long but the ascent is steep. Tickets are bought on the way to the top.
As soon as you reach the cave and enter it, the fresh and cool air immediately enters your body. The cave is wet and you can watch minerals falling down from the walls along with the seeping water. The cave is lit up throughout. At times, you have to watch your step as the floor can be slippery. Also, if you are tall (well, even if you are not tall), you might find it challenging at times since you have to bend your body as you walk through the low and narrow parts of the cave. Nice exercise! You might have to wait at times in the narrow alleys to make way for people passing by from the other side. I grabbed the opportunity to take some photos in the cave. Thanks to the strong LED lights that brighten up sections of the cave. But all in all, it is quite a dark place, making photography very difficult.
‘Maki-do’ means full of mystery, and that is a really nice name for a cave. The cave was named by the Japanese poet Akiko Yosano. The cave is said to be coral in origin formed by the sediment and mineral deposits of aquatic or marine organisms. The area was below sea-level in the past, even though its present location is not even near the ocean. Not much information is available about the cave, even in Japanese, which makes it even more of a mystery! Some movies have been shot inside the cave. But this is not the only cave in Niimi Village — there are some others too.
The cave is quite narrow and has many criss-crossing pathways. It is 450 m long and the widest location is 25 m in length. The temperature remains around 15 degree Celsius all year around, making it cool for summer and warm for winter. There are some nice photo spots and bridges, beautifully lit up with coloured LED lights. There are small ponds too and I even saw a fish swimming in them. Take a coin with you if you want to make a wish by throwing the coin over your shoulder into the pond.
It is a cave, right, so I started to wonder if there are bats hiding in there. The moment my thoughts wandered to them, I saw a bat flying from one chamber to the deeper chambers of the cave! It was screeching as it flew by, and was tiny, like a small bird.
The cave is really lovely! I fell in love with it. I especially recommend it to tourists who do not have caves in their home countries. Good and exciting for kids too. You do not need to be physically fit to walk inside the cave, but at times moving around the cave might be too challenging for elderly people or for those of you who are claustrophobic.
Located in Niimi Village, Okayama Prefecture, it is in the middle of nowhere so the easiest way to access it is by car. It's around 15 minutes from the Hokubo Interchange on the Chugoku Expressway. There are parking areas close to the cave.
If you cannot travel by car, there are bus services too: Bihoku Bus bound for Makido at Ikura Station (around 2 hours from Shin-Osaka) of JR Hakubi Line, ride around 30 minutes, get off at the terminal stop, and walk for 10 minutes.
Address: 2276-2 Toyonagaakouma, Niimi-shi, Okayama
Operating Hours: 8:30-17:00, last entry 30 minutes before closing.
Entry Fee: ¥1000 for adults, ¥800 for junior high school students , ¥500 for infants or kids