神瀬石灰洞窟

Kanze Limestone Cave - Konose Cave - Iwato Cave


Useful Information

Location: Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu island. At the National highway No. 219 Kamise, turn off at sign 長命水 (water of long life) uphill to parking lot.
Open: no restrictions. [2019]
Fee: no restrictions. [2019]
Classification: ExplainKarst cave Sanpozan Sankozan Belt (235-134Ma)
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=70m, W=45m, H=17m.
Guided tours: n/a
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: accessible, trail to the shrine is steep but has no steps
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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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History

1427 Kumanoza Shrine erected.

Description

Kanse Limestone Cave is a huge cavern with an enormous portal, 45m wide, 17m high, and 70m long. The enormous cave portal is said to be the largest in Japan. The huge hall was used to build a Shinto shrine named Kumanoza Shrine. The cave was mentioned by Tachibana Nankei, an intellectual of the Edo period, in his book Syuyuki. The cave is home to numerous birds, and the legend tells, that if ever all the birds will be catched, this will be the begin of a dark period of destruction. The shrine is dedicated to three gods, Inoue Miku, Hayaburo Yume, and Koro Otome.

Below the cave is a small karst spring, which is signposted 長命水 (water of long life). The cold and fresh water which flows in abundance was obviously an important spot in ancient times. However, today karst water is not very trustworthy, but as there are no settlements and no industry in the catchment area we guess its not dangerous to try it.