If you are in Kitakyushu City and feeling wildly adventurous, Senbutsu Cave may be the place to visit.
There are some points that I should warn you of.
*If you don’t have a car, do not go there. It is too difficult to get there without a car.
*If you are not fit to walk up and down the very steep hill from the free car park, just give up at the car park… We had to almost carry my parents going up the hill. There are free walking sticks at the top of the hill and the bottom of the hill.
* Do not visit the cave in winter. You have to walk through the knee-high water in the cave. The water was freezing cold when I went in August.
*If you are claustrophobic, walk down the steep hill to the entrance and stay there. Do not go inside. Perhaps you could bear the first wide part of the cave. It was a miracle that my husband survived the entire 1800m journey.
*If you are a health & safety conscious person, turn back where the cave gets narrower. There is no crowd control. No staff. No guidance. No phone line. You are on your own (or you can be one of the sheep to follow the person in front of you). You would be pushing your face against the wet cave wall in the freezing cold water until the oncoming flow of people have managed to squeeze through the small gap. Having said that, it shouldn’t be too bad if you avoid August – the peak time.
* As such, if you are rather large built, think it through…
*And, be careful as you walk. It can be slippery. Don’t injure yourself. Help may be a little bit tricky..
*No English signs and no information whatsoever in English. My English husband was the only foreigner when we went there. Good luck!
So, do you still want to visit the cave? I loved the experience. We came across so many families with small children. They were all having a good time. Some were carrying a baby (why??).
The view of Hiraodai Karst Plateau towards Senbutsu Cave is something that you wouldn’t expect to see within industrious, green-less Kitakyushu City. Wide open space with unusual shape limestones dotted in the grass.
The cave is nationally recognised as one of the four unique caves in Japan. It runs a few kilometres. Lights are installed for the first 900m. After that, it is just darkness. Visitors are allowed in until that point. The first 480m is dry. You can wear normal shoes if you are not going further.
We went there in our crocs. Most visitors like my parents switch their shoes with croc type footwear (either their own or free rental ones) at the entrance.
It is wise not to take any valuables into the cave. Leave your bag in the locker. It might become an obstacle as you try to get through a narrow gap. There are some lockers at the entrance. I left all my stuff including the phone in the locker. It costs 100 yen. Admission is 800 yen.
If you manage to hire a car with satnav with English (I think most satnav have language selections nowadays), the easiest way to set the route is search by the phone number.
Address: 3-2-1 Hiraodai, Kokuraminami-ku, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka 803-0180