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Photo By: PIXTA/ KAZE
Region
Shikoku
Island
Shikoku
Largest City
Kochi
Population
813,980

Ioki Cave

Explore Aki city’s sea cave overrun by over 40 different varieties of fern.

By Irdina Auni

Blink and you might just miss it. Located five minutes away from the national highway lies an unassuming entrance to one of Kochi’s most mystical walking routes. A stark contrast to the hectic roads a few meters away, Ioki Cave allows visitors a tranquil and primeval exploration of one of Kochi’s natural wonders.

The standard route takes between 20 to 50 minutes to complete depending on the individual. The trail is mainly untouched and unpaved. Although this can make the hike precarious and difficult to navigate at times, it creates a rustic and otherworldly experience, allowing hikers to truly be in touch with nature with little interference from the modern world.

Rare Natural Foliage

Ioki Cave

Photo by: PIXTA/ KAZE Enter if you dare.

Carved by ocean waves from seas that used to surround the area, the 40-meter cave walls are embedded with fossilized shellfish – an interesting nod to its underwater origins. Remember to keep an eye out for them (and the bats that live there)! The steep canyons that lie beyond the cave are shrouded in dense and lush foliage. Around 40 different varieties of ferns can be found. A rare phenomenon that helped Ioki Cave earn its recognition as a National Natural Monument. The ever-present thick overhanging vegetation keeps the route at a cool 20 degrees Celsius all year round. An appropriate hike for the hot Japanese summers.

A Rewarding Waterfall End

Ioki Cave

Photo by: PIXTA/しまくろ A hidden oasis.

A small stream runs through the entire route connecting three small waterfalls. The largest waterfall is situated at the end of the route, the water collecting in a mesmerizing emerald-hued pool basin – a reward for completing the hike. The route can get quite damp so come prepared with waterproof hiking boots. Don’t worry if you have forgotten to. Rain boots can be rented from the nearby tourist information center located at the Ioki cave parking area just 5 minutes away from the entrance of the cave. Do note, however, that sizes and availability for these rain boots are limited.

Surrounding Attractions

The end of the trail leads to even more exploration. Follow the signs to discover a small scarecrow village. Part creepy and part informative, the scarecrows serve as a museum, providing information about the surrounding village’s practices and past-time activities. Continue following the stoned path past the scarecrows and you’ll be greeted with beautiful views of endless rice paddy fields and the Pacific Ocean glittering in the background. During the fall season around late November, you can expect the added beauty of cosmos fields as the flowers will be in full bloom.

Things To Know

HOURS AND FEES

Entry is free. Guides are available (Japanese only) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from ¥1,000 per person, ¥700 for 2 to 10 persons. For 11 or more, phone reservations a week in advance are required.  

How To Get There

Address

By train

5 minutes walk from Ioki station on the Tosa Kuroshio Railway Gomen – Nahari Line

By car

About 40 minutes away from Kochi Ryoma Airport


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