滝観洞

Rokan-do - Rokando - Roukan do - Rokan Cave


Useful Information

Location: 298-81 Tsuchikura, Kamiarisu, Sumita-cho, Kesen-gun, Iwate 029-2501.
In the village Tsuchikura, a part of Sumita. Sennin-Toge motorway 283, exit Rokando, between the long tunnels between Tona and Kamaishi, only 800 m from the exit.
(39.2428675, 141.6836042)
Open: MAR daily 8:30-16.
APR to OCT daily 8:30-16:30.
NOV to FEB Sat, Sun, Hol 8:30-16.
[2022]
Fee: Adults JPY 1,100, Children (6-15) JPY 500, Children (0-5) free.
Groups (15+): JPY 100 discount.
Groups (30+): JPY 200 discount.
[2022]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Speleologyriver cave,
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=3,635 m.
Guided tours: self guided, L=880 m, D=90 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: 滝観洞 - Rokando, Tsuchikura−298-81, Kamiarisu, 029-2501 Sumita, Tel: +81-192-48-2756. E-mail:
Sumita Town Hall and Sumita Town Tourism Association, 88-1 Kawamukai, Setamai, Sumita-cho, Kesen-gun, Iwate 029-2311, Tel: +81-192-46-2111.
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.

History

~1870 cave discovered.
~1920 cave explored by a young man.
1955 opened as a show cave with the name 大洞岩窟滝 (Ōbora gankutsutaki, Gankutsu Falls).
1958 cave visited by the female poet Byakuren Yanagihara (*1885-✝1967).
1966 renamed 滝観洞 (Rokan Cave).
1967 滝観洞小唄 (Rōkandō kouta, Rokan Cave Ballad) announced.
1975 cave restored and reopened.
1977 filming location of the Japanese movie 八つ墓村 (Village of Eight Tombs).
1980 cave was the location of the 22nd Japan Caving Congress organised by the Japan Caving Association.
1985 water from the cave awarded as one of the 20 best waters in Iwate.
2008 cave exploration extends the length of the cave to 3,635 m.
11-MAR-2011 damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake, cave temporarily closed.
2012 cave reopened.

Description

滝観洞 (Rokando, Waterfall Cave) is a river cave with numerous small waterfalls and rapids. The tour follows the main passage for 880 m until it reaches a 60 m high shaft with a diameter of 16 m. The water emerges from a crack high above and forms the highest waterfall in any show cave in Japan with a drop of 29 m named Ama no Iwato no Taki (Amanoiwato Falls, Waterfall of the Heavenly Cave). The name was given by the passionate female poet Byakuren Yanagihara (*1885-✝1967). She visited the cave at age 73 in 1958 and actually made it to the waterfall. She later wrote the poem "Amanoiwato Waterfall" for the waterfall of Rokando Cave.

Although this cave is officially a show cave, the tours are actually quite rough. As soon as they enter the tiny entrance visitors are forced to crawl on their hands and knees for several minutes. The main passage is very low, only slightly higher than your head, and larger visitors (aka Westerners) are stooping most of the time. There are random Buddhist statues along the way so visitors can pray for strength, and a prayer is also a time of recovery. And before you reach the final waterfall chamber, there is again a section which requires crawling.

We would classify this cave as a very easy cave trekking tour, but officially it is a show cave. There are trails and electric light, just no tunnel for the low sections. Japanese, who are very petite and agile, have far fewer problems than adult caucasians. Visitors typically wear helmets, a windbreaker, and gumboots, which are provided by the staff. The river cave is mostly clean, just wet, nevertheless you might get dirty. Sturdy shoes and clothes you might wear on a hike are definitely a good idea. We suggest bringing your own, if you have, its more comfortable, and a good headlamp on your helmet is never a bad idea. For people of "normal" size and higher we also suggest knee-pads and gloves, which makes the crawling much more comfortable. A towel and dry clothes to change are probably also a good idea.

The cave became widely known in Japan in 1977, when it was a filming location of the Japanese movie 八つ墓村 (Village of Eight Gravestones). This movie has become a classic, and today there are numerous films, series and mangas with this story. The first detective novel of the Kindaichi Kosuke series was written by Seishi Yokomizo.