MAY to OCT Mon, Wed-Sun, Hol 9-17.
Adults JPY 100, Students JPY 70, Seniors JPY 70, Locals JPY 70, Children (12-17) JPY 50, Children (0-5) free, Disabled free.
Groups: 20% discount.
Temiya cave preservation hall, 1-3-4 Temiya, Otaru-shi, Tel: +81-134-24-1092.
Otaru Museum Main Building, 〒 047-0041 1-3-6, Temiya, Otaru-shi, Tel: +81-134-33-2523, Fax: +81-134-33-2678 E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1866||first cave engraving accidentally discovered.|
|1878||investigation by Enomoto Takeaki, the secretary of the Kaitakushi Yamanouchi Teiun, and the British geologist John Milne.|
|03-MAR-1926||designated a National Historic Place.|
|1949||cave covered by building to protect the engravings.|
|1986||begin of preservation work by the Otaru Museum.|
|1995||Temiya Cavern Preservation Center opened to the public.|
手宮洞窟 (Temiya Cave) is only a small remains of a cave, which is of great archaeological interest. It contains cave carvings and Inkoku paintings from the Zoku-Joumon period of the Ainu, about 400 AD.
The cave was discovered in 1866 by a soldier of the Imperial Guard. He was constructing a herring watch box and was looking for rocks he could use. He discovered an outcrop of tufa, but was astonished by various patterns engraved into the stone walls.
The cave was explored by the British geologist John Milne and by Enomoto Takeaki, the secretary of the Kaitakushi Yamanouchi Teiun (Hokkaido Development Commission) in 1878. After they published the results the cave became public knowledge. A discussion started among scholars which seems to us very Japanese: are those engravings pictures, symbols or letters. Only a land where complex painted patterns are interpreted as characters can actually have such an idea. The scholars even tried to read them and translate them, with rather weird results. And as far as we know this discussion is still ongoing. In Europe similar patterns are generally interpreted as depictions of humans and animals.
But while the scholars published articles, the cave was unprotected. Finally, in 1926 its value was accepted and the place protected by designating it as a National Historic Place.
The current state is that the cave is closed and covered by a building, which also houses a museum about the cave and presents some engravings and background information. The Temiya Cave Preservation Center is operated by the Otaru Museum.