close

Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Akiyoshidai Plateau 秋吉台

A pastoral yet alien landscape above, and Japan's largest limestone caverns, below

There was a coral reef here at Akiyoshidai at the bottom of the sea 300 million years ago. Only the limestone remained after the sea receded, and over time the wind and rain carved the rock into dramatic spires and rocky protrusions. The plateau, near the city of Mine in Yamaguchi Prefecture, is unlike anything else you will see in Japan.

However, before you explore the winding trails that run through this rocky grassland plateau, you may want to begin with Akiyoshido, the limestone caverns under Akiyoshidai that form the largest such subterranean system in the country.

Don't Miss

  • The limestone pools and terrace inside Akiyoshi-do
  • The “golden pillar,” an enormous stalactite
  • The view across Akiyoshidai and the karst landscape

How to Get There

Akiyoshido and Akiyoshidai are accessible via an extensive bus network from Yamaguchi City, and also from other cities throughout the prefecture.

Bocho Buses run from Shin-Yamaguchi Station to Akiyoshido Bus Center. From JR Yamaguchi Station, Chugoku JR buses also run to Akiyoshido Bus Center. Two Bocho buses per day run to Akiyoshidai then on to Akiyoshido from Higashi-Hagi Station.

The caverns of Akiyoshido

This is where you should start your adventure. Walk through the trees and cross the bridge over the river into the cave known as Akiyoshido.

The cave is large, with a well-maintained path. Gentle lighting preserves the atmosphere of this incredible place, and illuminates the stunning limestone pools, stalactites and stalagmites to great effect. The water running through the cave makes this an aural experience as well as it whittles the limestone into ever-more fantastic shapes.

Walk above the rushing water to enter Akiyoshido

The limestone terrace, or "100 plates" in Japanese

Plates and golden pillars

These caves are Japan's largest, with nine kilometers total. However, only around one kilometer is open to the public.

There are two very famous places inside the cavern. The first is the "100 plates," a huge terrace of limestone that looks like an enormous stack of plates, all washed and ready to serve customers in an underground delicatessen. The other is a gigantic stalactite called the "Golden Pillar," more than 15 meters tall and 4 meters in diameter.

There's a special trail you can climb up for an additional 300 yen that takes you higher up for a great view down into the cavern.

Up to the surreal karst topography of Akiyoshidai

Toward the end of the cave is an elevator that will take you up to Akiyoshidai. The plateau is a five-minute walk up a gentle hill from the exit. When you step out onto the grassland, you'll have a breathtaking view of the karst.

Pampas grass was once grown here for thatch and other domestic uses. The annual controlled burning of the plateau grass has prevented any large trees from growing here. Explore the hiking trails of this extraordinary landscape. The contrast of colors—vivid green, rocky white and sky blue—will light your imagination.

Lighting a fire to renew the grasslands

The appearance of Akiyoshi-dai changes naturally with the seasons, and once a year with human intervention.

On the third Sunday in February, Akiyoshidai is set alight in a controlled fire to rejuvenate the grasslands. This event is called Akiyoshidai Yaki. Volunteers set fire to the grasses, and the fire spreads out over the landscape, turning everything black and exposing the rocks.

For anyone who loves natural phenomena, Akiyoshidai and Akiyoshido are perfect for a day trip from Yamaguchi or Hagi.

Keywords

  • HOME
  • Akiyoshidai Plateau