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May 24, 2019 - Matsue Horanenya - Akiyoshido and Akiyoshidai
It have finally arrived at Yamaguchi Prefecture for the first time and it is time for some sightseeing and discover what this prefecture has to offer.
I decided to make a day trip to the cave of Akiyoshido and the Akiyoshidai karst plateau, arguably Yamaguchi Prefecture's most visited natural attractions. To get to Akiyoshido or Akiyoshidai from Hagi, I only need to take the Akiyoshido-bound bus from the Hagi Bus Center. Although there are only two buses going to Akiyoshido from Hagi in a day, there will be enough of time to visit both places at a comfortable pace.
The first bus out of Hagi was scheduled at about 10.50am so there was no need for me to wake up early. When the bus arrived, I happened to be the only passenger boarding the bus and the driver was worried that I had gotten on the wrong bus! It only took about an hour to arrive at Akiyoshido.
After arriving at the Akiyoshido bus station, I walked up the shopping street and reached the ticket office of the cave. A ticket for adults cost JPY1200, quite steep in my opinion but I later learned that it is possible to go back into the cave as many times as one wants within a day. From the ticket office, it was an easy pleasant walk to the cave entrance filled with lush greenery and clear, pristine water that sparkled like diamonds in the afternoon sun.
I entered the cave for the first time and was immediately amazed by the sight of the Hyakumaizara, rock formations shaped like rice terraces, upon entry. The cave also had many other fascinating formations, such as a rock shaped like Mount Fuji in the clouds, the rice paddy fields of the Chimachida, and the stalactites called Kasazukushi. The most famous attraction of the cave was of course, Koganebashira, the golden pillar.
I found a signboard with a map in the cave on my way to the Koganebashi and realized that the cave was connected to the Akiyoshidai Karst Plateau by elevator. At first, I thought about renting a bicycle to get to Akiyoshidai, but with this new revelation, there was no need for a bike after all, saving me lots of money and energy for a wonderful time sightseeing this natural wonderland. The elevator between Akiyoshido and Akiyoshidai was apparently the deepest in Japan.
After exiting the elevator, I walked around 10 minutes with a slight uphill to my next natural destination, the karst plateau of Akiyoshidai.
Akiyoshidai at first did not seem interesting after looking at the photos before the trip, but when I reached there for the first time, it was a breathtaking sight to behold. Lying before me was a great grassy expanse dotted with jagged rocks of different shapes and sizes, shimmering beautifully under the clear blue sky. I eventually arrived at an area with a couple of shops and an observation tower, a perfect time to have lunch and have that quintessential sofuto ice cream.
After lunch, I had around one and a half hour to spend in Akiyoshidai before the next bus back to Hagi. I decided to pay a visit to the nearby science museum. Entrance was free but there was nothing interesting or notable to see.
After the museum, I found a signboard with a map of a 30-minute trekking course that I can take around Akiyoshidai. Apparently, this was a route that was used by researchers quite some time ago.
I completed the 30-minute trek and made it to the Akiyoshidai bus station about 15 minutes before the arrival of the last Hagi-bound bus. All in all, I can conclude that Akiyoshido and Akiyoshidai are great, easy day trips from Hagi.
I returned back to Hagi and took a short break before heading out to catch the evening sunset at Kikugahama beach. I walked along the samurai district and started taking lots of photos, fascinated by how well preserved the old wooden buildings were, and at the same time trying to get that perfect shot of the old town of Hagi in the sunset. I eventually reached the beach and it was already too late to see the sunset. Anyway, I did not mind as I had taken quite a lot of sunset photos on this trip.
I ended the day with dinner at another of ruco's recommended restaurants, Brasserie Lab, for some French food. I had a full course of pork pate, panfried chicken breast and chocolate fondant, all freshly made with local ingredients of Yamaguchi Prefecture.