平尾台自然観察センター

Hiraodai Nature Observation Center


Useful Information

Location: Hiraodai, Kokuraminami-ku, Kitakyushu 803-0186.
(33.758960, 130.889880)
Open: All year Tue-Sun 10-17, last entry 16:30.
[2022]
Fee: free.
[2022]
Classification: KarstCovered Karst KarstKarren KarstStone Forests
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=6 km, W=2 km, Ar=320 ha.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Kensaku Urata (2009): Formation of the Hirao-dai karst system, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, Reprinted from the Bulletin of the Akiyoshi-dai Museum of Natural History No. 44, March, 2009.
Address: Hiraodai Nature Observation Center, 1-4-40 Hiraodai, Kokuraminami-ku, Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka 803-0180, Tel: +81-93-453-3737, Fax: 093-452-3739. E-mail:
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

1950 declared a Prefectural Natural Park.
22-NOV-1952 Hiraodai designated a national Natural Monument.
16-OCT-1972 Kitakyushu National Monument declared.
2000 平尾台自然観察センター (Hiraodai Nature Observation Center) opened to the public.

Description

Right south of the city Kitakyushu is a forested mountain ridge. The center is a 6 km long and 2 km wide plateau, which is composed of limestone and karstified. It has numerous dolines, the ground is not very fertile and is covered by gras. Limestone rocks protruding from the gras have karren, almost like stone forests. The region is a popular day trip destination for the surrounding cities. It has nearly 200 karst caves, nearly 400 dolines of various sizes, strange rock formations, several outlooks, trails, and a campground. The area has no water on the surface, rain drains underground through caves and returns at the border to insoluble rocks in springs.

平尾台自然観察センター (Hiraodai Nature Observation Center) is a sort of Visitor Center for the カルスト高原 平尾台 (Karst plateau Hiraodai), named after the village Hiraodai. It has a picture exhibition, a model of the karst, various educational videos, and interactive displays. The reservation offers brochures and maps, and sells books. There is a theater and a training room for groups and educational programmes. The rooftop offers a great view on the karst. The center also offers mountain walks, wildflower observations, and insect observations, and cave trekking trips in three different caves. The caves are Mejirodô Cave, Fudo Cave, and Seiryu Cave.

There is a second center which serves the practical needs of the visitors called 北九州市平尾台自然の郷 (Kitakyushu City Hiraodai Nature Village). It has a campground, shop, barbeque area and offers various events, but more on the pottery and kite making side.

The Hiraodai is 340 Ma old, and 100 Ma ago it was converted into marble by a process called metamorphosis. The karst has only gras, but thats artificial, a result of human intervention. Every year in February the dry gras is burned, which also kills all newly grown plants. In spring the landscape turn green again. Without the burning the whole area would be a forest. Here numerous caves are known, and four are open as show caves. So many caves all at the same location works only if there are quite a lot of tourists and if every cave has a specialty. You can find a huge entrance pit and a cave where you wade in the cave river.