しとどの窟

Shitodonoiwaya - Shitodo Cave


Useful Information

Location: Above Miyakami, Yugawara, Ashigarashimo District. Near Manazuru Port. From the coast drive through Miyakami, turn right on 75. Parking lot in the last hairpin before you reach the ridge. Parking in front of the the tunnel, then walk through the tunnel. 20min walk.
Open: no restrictions.
[2020]
Fee: free.
[2020]
Classification: Speleologyerosional cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension:
Guided tours: self guided, D=1.5h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address:
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History

1180 Minamoto no Yoritomo hides in the cave.

Description

しとどの窟 (Shitodo Cave) is a small cave in the mountains above Miyakami. The trail to the cave is lined with stone lanterns resembling little houses on pillars and the cave is full of stone plates with inscriptions and about 20 stone Buddhas. As most of the caves in Japan this cave is used as a cave temple or shrine.

It is also one of the locations which claims to be the legendary hideout of Minamoto no Yoritomo when he fled after losing the Battle of Ishibas hiyama against the Heike clan. But the pursuers were searching for him, and when they reached the cave a bird flew out of the cave entrance. So they thought that the cave was empty, because the bird would have fled before, if someone was the cave. So they omitted searching the cave and Yoritomo was saved. So the live of the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate, famous fighter, general and warlord, was saved by a bird. The cave was named after the bird whose name was Shitodo.

The cave is quite small and the place is little developed. There is only a trail with stone steps leading down to the cave from the road, no further infrastructure. There are also no English signs.

According to legend it was more then 100m long and faced the sea when Minamoto no Yoritomo hid here. It was later uplifted and most of it collapsed due to the Great Kanto Earthquake. There is also a story that the andesite of the cave was used during World War II to cut rocks for the naval airfield on the Miura Peninsula. They were also used to build the Shinagawa Daiba in the late Edo period. In front of the cave entrance is a waterfall which has only a very small amount of water most of the year, but after heavy rains the water raises. The cave is most likely a result of the erosion by the water of the waterfall which hits the ground in front of the cave. Such caves behind waterfalls are quite common.