住吉暗川

Sumiyoshi Ankawa - Sumiyoshi Kurago


Useful Information

Location: Sumiyoshi, China, Oshima District, Kagoshima 891-9223.
(27.363760, 128.533870)
Open: no restrictions.
[2023]
Fee: free.
[2023]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave SpeleologyRiver Cave KarstDoline
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System bring torch
Dimension: VR=30 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Sumiyoshi Ankawa, Sumiyoshi, China, Oshima District, Kagoshima 891-9223.
China Town Office Lifelong Learning Division, Tel: +81-997-81-5151, Fax: +81-997-81-5153.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

1963 construction of water pump, dam and pipe.

Description

住吉暗川 (Sumiyoshi Ankawa, Sumiyoshi Dark River) is also called 住吉クラゴー (Sumiyoshi Kurago, Sumiyoshi Well) Sumiyoshi is the god of wealth, but it is also the name of the village. The cave is a sinkhole in the middle of the village, and at the bottom there is a river cave. A long staircase leads down into the doline, into the cave and then to the cave river. There is even a light switch for electric light.

However, this is not a show cave, it is a former water source, a well, which provided the drinking water for the village, and as such it is a historic site. Today the villages are connected to the public water supply, and the cave is only a tourist site. Fetching water from a depth of about 30 m was the work of women and children. Obviously it was very hard work, and the only support was the construction of the staircase and later the electric light. Later the well was equipped with a dam, a pump and a water pipe, and so the drinking water was pumped up automatically. All the installed hardware is still in place but not used anymore. The problem with karst water is, that it is very vulnerable to pollution. Even a heavy rain might be enough to make the water unhealthy.

The entrance to the cave is opposite the Nine Pillar Takakura. This is a historic wooden hut with nine pilars, which is exceptional. In the Amami archipelago and the islands of Okinawa, grain was stored with a raised floor to prevent moisture and improve ventilation. Being elevated probably also helped against vermin. Opposite this hut is a white box with statue of a Greek goddess or nymph inside, where the trail down starts. Recently an explanatory sign with a picture showing two women collecting water was placed at the entrance, but only in Japanese. There is now a sign leading the way. It seems the trail is kept free of the massively growing ferns and other plants. The site is accessible without restrictions, and the visit is simply walking down the stairs. We recommend good walking shoes, the last part of the staircase is very wet and overgrown with flowstone. Despite the light, which is a single bulb intended for the maintenance of the pump, it is necessary to bring a lamp if you want to see the cave river.