ガンガラーの谷

Valley of Gangala


Useful Information

Location: Maekawa Tamagusuku Village, Tamagusuku-mura, Okinawa.
Near Naha on the southern end of Okinawa.
Take the 331 scenic road along the coast or the freeway 47 across the island. The cave is signposted, for international tourist: the signposts contain the word "cave".
Okinawan Expressway south toward Naha. At splits, exit left toward Itoman to the tollbooth. South on the expressway extension to a stoplight at the end. Straight and then left onto Highway 48. At blue sign "CAVE" above the road turn right onto Highway 17. The village is on the left after 3 km.
From Naha bus terminal take bus 54 or 83, 45 min.
(26.141304, 127.747220)
Open: All year daily 9-17:30.
Reservation required, on the day before, befor 17.
Be there 10 minutes before the departure.
[2022]
Fee: Adults JPY 2,500, Children (0-10) free.
[2022]
Classification: KarstCollapsed Cave
Light: electric, kerosene lamps provided
Dimension: Ar=45,000 m².
Guided tours: D=80 m, L=1,000 m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Valley of Gangala, 〒901-0616 202 Maekawa, Tamagusuku, Nanjo City, Okinawa Prefecture, Tel: +81-98-948-4192.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1970 20,000 year old human bone discovered in a limestone quarry about 1.5 km away.
1972 opened as a "Natural Park" to the public.
1977 forced to close as drainage from upstream barns flowed into the river flowing through the valley and polluted the river.
AUG-2008 opened to the public.

Description

The ガンガラーの谷 (Valley of Gangala) was formed by the collapse of a limestone cave hundreds of thousands of years ago. Archaeological excavations revealed remains of the Minatogawa Men who lived here 20,000 BP. The most outstanding discovery so far was a fishhook, which was dated to be 23,000 years old and is thus the oldest known so far. The oldest human remains in the area are 30,000 years old.

From the parking lot you first reach the Cave Cafe, which was actually built into a huge cavern with stalctites at the ceiling. The table have huge umbrellas against the dripping weater from the ceiling. It is a fine place to spend sone time until the beginning of the tour. The tour starts with a 1 km walk down the valley through Akagi Forest on a paved trail. Walking shoes are recommended, a raincoat or umbrella is much recommended during rain. The tour ends at the Okinawa World bus parking lot, walking back is 5 minutes, or you continue touring the Gyokusen-do.

There are several small caves or shelters along the valley. The first, which is rather big, is the location of the café. The café is accessible only to visitors with a reservation, you need the ticket to reach it. But it is also the location of various events like concerts, traditional shows, and especiall lectures with archaeological topics. But the most importants event is the three day Soul Music Festival Mabuioto which takes place here. The next cave is called イナグ洞 (Inag Dong) and is said to be a women's cave, a Japanese tradition, where women go to pray for fertility. The next cave is イキガ洞 (Ikiga Dong) which is the fitting men's cave. Further down the valley, after the Banyan Tree you reach the 武芸洞 (Martial Arts Cave), where the archaeological remain were found.

The so-called Minatogawa Man was discovered in 1970 in a limestone quarry about 1.5 km away. Four complete skeletons of one adult male and three adult females were excavated and are now in the University Museum of the University of Tokyo. When the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum was opened in 2007, two skeletons were tranfered to this museum and you can see them there. The Valley of Gangala has been the place of excavations since 2007, because archaeologists realized that it was a good place to live during the Paleolithic era. There are shelters and drinking water. On their website is a blog where the archaeologists publish recent discoveries.