Travel Reports by Aaron Chong view profile of Aaron Chong

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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.

On my way to Akiyoshido by bus

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.

Akiyoshido souvenir and shopping street
Verdant path to Akiyoshido
Cave entrace up ahead
Clear, pristine water flowing out of the cave

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.

Hyakumaizara - The terraced rice fields of Akiyoshido
Mount Fuji
Chimachida - Rice paddy fields in a cave
Kasazukushi - Stalactites hanging like umbrellas from the cave ceiling
The star of Akiyoshido, Koganebashira, the Golden Pillar
More interesting cave formations after Koganebashira

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.

300 million years time tunnel. But this is not the way out to Akiyoshidai
A map of Akiyoshido showing that the cave is connected to Akiyoshidai by elevator
Heading back up to the surface
Elevator entrance to the cave at Akiyoshidai

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.

Arrival at Akiyoshidai karst plateau
Finally some much needed R&R
Flavor of the day: Natsumikan or summer orange
School field trip
View from the observation tower
A simple lunch of udon with beef from the area

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.

Akiyoshidai Science Museum
Cave mice and bats
Cave salamander
Retracing the researchers' route of Akiyoshidai
Wakatake Hill up ahead
Professional cameraman at work
Seems like a long way back to the observation tower
Waiting for the bus back to Hagi at Akiyoshidai

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.

Old shops and signs
An evening stroll down the castle town of Hagi
Fine examples of Hagiyaki pottery
The sun setting soon
The sun finally disappeared at the castle ruins
An evening at Kikugahama Beach

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.

French food at Brasserie Lab
Choshu pork pate
Panfried Choshu chicken breast
Chocolate fondant with strawberry coulis and vanilla ice cream

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List of Posts:
2019/05/31 - Matsue Horanenya - Koyasan
2019/05/30 - Matsue Horanenya - Horyuji and to Wakayama Prefecture
2019/05/29 - Matsue Horanenya - Uji
2019/05/28 - Matsue Horanenya - Amanohashidate
2019/05/27 - Matsue Horanenya - Tottori Sand Dunes
2019/05/26 - Matsue Horanenya - Kangyosai Ҍ
2019/05/25 - Matsue Horanenya - The World Heritage Sites of Hagi
2019/05/24 - Matsue Horanenya - Akiyoshido and Akiyoshidai
2019/05/23 - Matsue Horanenya - The Beluga Whales of AQUAS
2019/05/22 - Matsue Horanenya - Chunichisai
2019/05/21 - Matsue Horanenya - Matengai Cliff and the Kuniga Coast
2019/05/20 - Matsue Horanenya - Sakaiminato
2019/05/19 - Matsue Horanenya - Izumo Taisha
2019/05/18 - Matsue Horanenya - Togyosai n
2019/05/17 - Matsue Horanenya - Getting to Matsue from KIX
2016/07/15 - Hokkaido Day 14 - End of the Trip and My Top Five Highlights
2016/07/14 - Hokkaido Day 13 - Biei's Patchwork Road and the Blue Pond
2016/07/13 - Hokkaido Day 12 - The Lavender Fields of Furano
2016/07/12 - Hokkaido Day 11 - Usuyukiso Habitat and Peach Rock
2016/07/11 - Hokkaido Day 10 - Rebun's 4-Hour Trekking Course
2016/07/10 - Hokkaido Day 9 - Wakkanai, the Northernmost City of Japan
2016/07/09 - Hokkaido Day 8 - Journey to the North
2016/07/08 - Hokkaido Day 7 - Last Day in Shiretoko
2016/07/07 - Hokkaido Day 6 - Bear Watching Cruise and Rausu
2016/07/06 - Hokkaido Day 5 - Shiretoko Five Lakes
2016/07/05 - Hokkaido Day 4 - Obihiro Butadon and the Kushiro Norokko Train
2016/07/04 - Hokkaido Day 3 - Hell Valley and Heavenly Ramen
2016/07/03 - Hokkaido Day 2 - Yoichi and Otaru
2016/07/02 - Hokkaido Day 1 - Late Night Ramen Dinner
2015/05/02 - Hanami 2015 Day 6 - The Wisterias of Ashikaga Flower Park
2015/05/01 - Hanami 2015 Day 5 - Kakunodate and Long Winding Route to Aomori
2015/04/30 - Hanami 2015 Day 4 - The Lonely Sakura of Koiwai Farm
2015/04/29 - Hanami 2015 Day 3 - Matsushima and the Shiogamazakura
2015/04/28 - Hanami 2015 Day 2 - Hirosaki
2015/04/27 - Hanami 2015 Day 1 - Shibazakura in Chichibu