Sandanbeki Dokutsu - Sandanbeki Cave

Useful Information

Location: 2927-52, Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun 649-2211 Wakayama Prefecture.
Near Sandan, west of Shirahama on road 34.
(33.665632, 135.335176)
Open: All year daily 8-17, last admission 16:50.
Closed some days during December for inspection.
Fee: Adults JPY 1,200, Children (6-10) JPY 600, Children (0-5) free, Disabed JPY 600.
Groups (20+): Adults JPY 1,000, Children (6-16) JPY 500.
Groups (100+): Adults JPY 900, Children (6-16) JPY 450.
Additional rates for schools.
Classification: Speleologysea cave SpeleologyKarst cave.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: Allowed
Accessibility: Yes, with elevator
Address: Sandanbeki Dokutsu, 2927-52 Sandan, Shirahama Town, Nishimuro County, Wakayama Prefecture 649-2201, Tel: +81-739-42-4495, Fax: +81-739-43-3278.
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.



Sandanbeki Dokutsu (Sandanpeki dōkutsu, Sandanbeki Cave) is located inside the Sandanbeki Cliff, a limestone rock with 50 m high cliff faces protruding into the sea near Sandan town. The cave inside the rock, a karst cave enlarged by the work of the waves, was once the hideout of pirates. It was once the secret base of the Kumanosuigun pirates, who hid their ships inside the cave. On the cliff is the guard house of the pirates, which was rebuilt and is now a museum.

In the second half of the 8th century, during the reign of Kanmu-tenno, the 50th emperor of Japan, the sea was raided by the pirate Tagamaru. He appeared out of the blue, raided a ship and then disappeared mysteriously. He operated around Kumano Onigashiro. In old documents the cave at Sandanbeki was suspected to be one of his hideouts. This place was actual an important lookout for ships and the fishermen used it to look for shoals of fish. Sandanbeki translates Three Step Cliff, but this seems to be some kind of mistranslation and originaly it means outlook.

The cave is located at sea level, but it is entered from the plateau above. A 36 m high elevator brings visitors down into the cave, which is actually a kind of pirate theme park. While the museum is more or less a presentation of legends and Medieval weaponry, the cave itself and the closeness of the sea makes the visit a unique experience.

On the other side of the cliff is a blow hole, where the waves are pressed into a chimney and the water is blown out several meters high.