Ryūsendō Cave (龍泉洞) in Iwate Prefecture is one of the three biggest limestone caves in Japan. Limestone caves might not sound very exciting for some people, but when you see the charming underground sapphire blue lakes, will your answer change from “nope, not interested” to “yes, I am going”?
As well as its beautiful blue color, the lake water is also very transparent, so depending on the weather, it is possible to see quite deep into the water (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
Visiting Ryūsendō Cave is quite easy. By taking just a JR Bus from JR Morioka Station (盛岡駅), you will be brought right to the front gate of the cave.
And yes, at first glance, it may not look like there is a cave anywhere close to the bus stop where you get off. BUT, don’t doubt your bus driver because the cave’s entrance happens to be just opposite the house (^_-)-☆.
Ryūsendō Cave’s Entrance Fee
To enter the caves, you will need to get your ticket in the traditional Japanese house you saw when you arrived.
- High school students and above: 1,100 yen
- Elementary and junior high school students: 550 yen
Tip: If you use the JR EAST PASS and the JAPAN RAIL PASS to board the JR Bus from JR Morioka Station to Ryūsendō Cave, check with the staff to see if you can still get 170 yen off the entrance fee. You will need onboard proof, which you can get from the driver when you get off the bus. Please refer to the Ryūsendō Cave access information HERE.
The Extended Passageway
Soon after you have passed the cave entrance, this passageway will lead you to the highlight of the trip – the three beautiful underground lakes. It was once said that the cave was the home to a dragon. And just to be clear, not the ones that look more like a Godzilla, but the Asian types that have a snake-like body!
Depending on which part of the cave you are at, the temperature in the cave is roughly between 10 to 20 degrees throughout the year. So even in summer, heading into the cave with just a T-shirt might result in catching a cold.
But, if this is a date, it will definitely be a good chance to improve your relationship, since the two of you have to be really close to each other to stay warm (´▽｀*).
The Heart-Shaped Spot at the Imperial Palace
Refer to this MAP of the Ryūsendō Cave to help you along with your exploration. At the far end of the Imperial Palace, you will find a plate with “守り獅子” written on it. The limestone around this plate is supposed to look like a lion, but we couldn’t figure it out…
Anyway, the point is if you stand where this plate is and look back to where Turtle Rock is, the overlapping rocks of the passageway form a heart-shaped spot (still a bit hard to tell, but easier than the lion-shaped limestone wall…).
Bats in Ryūsendō Cave
If you have checked out the MAP on the official website, you might have already realized that bats are living in the cave.
In winter, when the bats are hibernating, you might just find one above your head Σ(ﾟДﾟ). Whilst we find it fascinating, for those who aren’t a big fan of bats, looking straight is probably a better option…(´▽｀*)
The Three Stunning Underground Lakes
Whilst the lakes in the Ryūsendō cave show off their transparency, the level of transparency does depend on the weather. The lakes might not be as transparent when there is a lot of water inflow from rain or melted snow.
So, the best season to visit the cave is winter, when everything outside is frozen (*´ω｀).
If you aren’t good at dealing with coldness in winter, come into the cave for some warmth! No matter how cold it is outside, inside the cave it will stay at the same temperature – around 10 degrees (that is why bats hibernate inside the cave, too!).
The Colorful Stalactite at the First Underground Lake Observation Deck
After you visit the third underground lake, you will be given two choices of how you want to leave the cave (if it isn’t congested in the cave).
If you are confident in climbing stairs (270 steps altogether up and down), then we highly recommend you make an effort to check out this Observation Deck instead of heading back to the cave’s entrance through the same passageway. From the observation deck, you will be able to see the first underground lake directly from the top (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
Also, the colorful LED lighting on the stalactites creates a fantastic atmosphere around the deck!
Tip: After you come out of the Ryūsendō Cave, before you head to the Ryūsendō Kanko Kaikan (龍泉洞観光会館) for some food, fill up your water bottle with the water fountain close to the cave’s entrance/exit! Because, if you want more of the delicious water after you leave the cave, you will have to pay…(´▽｀*). The water here is legitly being sold online!
More Information about the Ryūsendō Cave
- Please refer to the list of prohibited activities inside the cave and extra information about the cave (including the peak season that you won’t be able to get to the underground lake observation deck) on their official website HERE. You will need to scroll down past the car park information.
- If you are a big event-goer, refer to their event page HERE to plan your visit!
- Check out other facilities close to Ryūsendō Cave HERE (lockers and toilet information are always useful).
- To fully enjoy the Ryūsendō Cave and the science museum, it is best if you can allocate 2 hours of your time here.
- Lastly, the cave is actually a famous spot to propose. The success rate is actually quite high from past experience. So if it is the right time for you, why not group with the cave’s staff to surprise your beloved another half?
The Scenic Promenade Close to the Cave
Close to the cave’s entrance, you will find this gorgeous promenade (official map HERE).
If you aren’t in a hurry to leave, taking a relaxing stroll down the footpath is a great idea (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.
Also, if you are looking for other tourist spots close by, check out other tabs in the link above. They even have information on the Iwaizumi Town’s (岩泉町) hidden gem!
How to Get to Ryūsendō Cave
To get to Ryūsendō Cave, you can get a JR Bus from JR Morioka Station’s East exit’s (盛岡駅東口) bus stop no. 1 and get off at the last stop – Ryūsendō-Mae (龍泉洞前).
There are only 4 services each day to and from the Cave. Please refer to the timetable on the official website HERE. Although the website is in Japanese, the timetable (時刻表) on the second tab should be quite straightforward to read. You can also translate it to English using Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.
If you don’t have either of the 2 passes above, you will need to get your bus ticket first from the JR Bus Tohoku Morioka Station Ticket Office (JRバスきっぷうりば). It is located opposite JR Morioka Station’s north ticket gate (it is actually close to the station’s west exit).
The ticket fare is located on the 3rd tab (料金表). Elementary school students get a 50% discount on the listed adult price.
Explore Other Parts of Iwate Prefecture
Iwate Prefecture has loads of scenic spots for those who love beautiful scenery. To find out more, please check out all our articles that introduce all the great spots in Iwate Prefecture!