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Photo By: PIXTA/ 歩き神
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Kaka no Kukedo Sea Caves

The birthplace of a deity, a place of spiritual limbo and the scenery of the coast.

By Laura Payne

The Shimane Peninsula, located in northeastern Shimane Prefecture, is a place where history, religion and dramatic landscapes intersect. One of the most famous places on this peninsula is Kaka no Kukedo, a pair of sea caves with deep connections to Shinto and Buddhist beliefs. From spring to fall, visitors can view the caves up close by joining a local sightseeing boat tour.

On this tour, be ready to see the birthplace of a deity, a place of spiritual limbo and the scenery of the coast.

Stories of the Caves

Kaka no Kukedo

Photo by: https://www.kankou-shimane.com/ Where the Shinto goddess Kisakahime gave birth to Sarutahiko

The Kaka no Kukedo sightseeing boats depart from Marine Plaza, which houses a free museum that explains the history of the region, literary connections to Kaka no Kukedo and the significance of the caves.

One cave called Shin Kukedo (New Kukedo) is said to be where the Shinto goddess Kisakahime gave birth to Sarutahiko, the guardian of the Shimane Peninsula. Shin Kukedo has multiple entrances, supposedly because before giving birth, Kisakahime used a golden bow and arrow to shoot holes into the cave wall and let in more light.

Meanwhile, a cave called Kyu Kukedo (Old Kukedo) is a Buddhist site believed to be connected to Sainokawara (a riverbank that marks the boundary of the afterlife). It is said that if a child dies at an age too young to have done any good deeds, they become stuck at Sainokawara. Here, they build towers of stones, which oni (demons) later destroy, forcing the children to begin their task anew. There is comfort for these young souls, however, because Jizo—the guardian of travelers and children—protects and encourages them in place of their parents. In Kyu Kukedo, grieving parents can pray for their lost children’s souls.

On the Tour

Kaka no Kukedo

Photo by: https://www.kankou-shimane.com/ If you’re lucky, you’ll see the shrine within the cave.

Aboard the sightseeing boats, visitors are whisked around the nearby coastline, which in addition to Kaka no Kukedo is home to surreal rock formations and clear blue ocean. If the sea is calm, the tour boat travels inside Shin Kukedo, revealing a shrine built inside the cave.

At another point in the tour, visitors can disembark the boat and explore Kyu Kukedo for a short time. Inside, the cave is filled with statues of Jizo and small piles of stones—offerings for children at Sainokawara. As you explore this cave, be careful not to knock over the stone piles because it is believed doing so will sadden the children’s souls.

Things To Know

HOURS AND FEES

The Kaka no Kukedo sightseeing boats operate from March to November from around 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Weather or sea conditions may cancel tours for the day, so before going to the departure point at Marine Plaza it is advised to call ahead and make sure the boats are running.

More details about the tour can be found online: http://kukedo.com/guide-en/ 

How To Get There

Address

By train

From Matsue station, take a bus on the Marine Plaza Line and alight at Marine Plaza Mae. Details on city bus routes can be found at the Matsue International Tourist Information Center (located outside the station’s north exit).

Alternatively, you can rent a car near the station and drive to the departure point at Marine Plaza. A parking lot is available on-site.


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