Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park is one of the most popular sights in the rustic prefecture of Yamaguchi. This region is known for its history and traditionalism, and the park fits in with this reputation.
The geology of the area is fascinating, and it also has historical significance as it was officially named by Emperor Hirohito in 1926. The area has been a source of pride for the region ever since.
Lots of limestone
One of the biggest attractions of the park is actually underneath its surface.Akiyoshido Cave is the largest and longest limestone cave in Japan, with a width of 100 meters and a length of nearly nine kilometers. It has a series of giant limestone caves and caverns that you can explore in tour groups, as one kilometer of it is open to the public for exploring.
The tour takes you down to the lowest point of the cave where you can see hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites. You can also find unique rock formations like the golden pillar, a limestone structure that is 15-meters-high and four-meters wide. Once you’re done exploring inside, you can take an elevator back up to the surface.
Walking around the park, visitors will see limestone structures that protrude sharply upwards out of the ground. Having formed overtime, some are as tall as two meters. Walking through fields with rock pinnacles is a bizarre inversion of expectations that needs to be seen to be believed. These natural towers jutting out of the ground are another phenomenon of this national gem.
Fossils and changin’ seasons
In the rocks, there are a number of fossils. Scientists have found remains of rhinoceroses, elephants and even tigers. The area allows us to travel back in time and find out what animals inhabited Japan when the seas levels were low enough for it to still be connected to mainland Asia.
You can visit Akiyoshidai at different times of year for a different atmosphere and a changing appearance of the park. In summer, the park is a joyous place; many people take advantage of the sunny summer days to go out and enjoy nature, as well as the firework festival held here every July.
In winter, the park is more reserved and peaceful. Every February the grass-burning ceremonies, knows as yamayaki, are conducted. It’s quite a sight to see, as the fire and the smell of kindling add to the park experience. Afterwards the park is scorched black, but new seedlings burst forth almost instantly.