|Location:||Yamagata-mura. Southwest Kuji City.|
2nd Sunday in February 10-15.
2nd Sunday in July 10-15.
|Light:||Incandescent Electric Light System|
|Accessibility:||no, iron staircases|
|Address:||Uchimakido, Kuji City, Yamagata Community Center, Location Oguni, Yamagata-cho, Tel: +81-194-72-3711.|
|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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内間木洞 (Uchimakido) is more than 6 km long and is one of the longest caves in Japan. The entrance area is carefully developed as a show cave, with trails and electric light. During winter icicles form in the cave, the ice stalagmites regularly reach a size of 2 m. They normally remain until mid March before they melt away. So this is not an ice cave, it is just a cave which is very well ventilated. During winter with temperatures below zero the cold wind blows through the cave and freezes water drops either on the ceilong or after they have fallen down on the floor. As soon as the weathe outside becomes warmer, the ice in the cave melts too.
The cave is home to many bats. So far seven different species were registered. While the bats are endangered because their source of food is vanishing in the highly populated Japan, there was a special event in 2007. 78 dead bats were found and after a infrared video camera was installed it was clear that they were killed by stray cats. The idea to hunt down the stray cats caused protests by animal welfare groups. At the end the whole situation vanished as the cats for some reason stopped to hunt bats.
This cave is a show cave, but it is open only twice a year. The first open day is on the 2nd Sunday in February. The second open day is during a local festival, the Uchimaki-do Festival, on the 2nd Sunday in July. Please check the Kuji City events online if you need the exact date, as it differs from year to year.
Quite funny is, that visitors are equipped with helmets. This is probably a good idea because the cave has only a rather dark light system, the lamps were probably only installed for security reasons, as the cave has no