Sometimes getting our kids to head out to explore Japan is like pulling teeth! they always have fun once we are out and about- but getting them there is usually a hassle. I'm not sure if it's the drive- or just the age of our kiddos- but it drives me bonkers! going to the limestone caves was no different. lots of moans and groans. until we walked into the cave! and then Ike exclaimed: "this is the coolest day EVER'!
The drive to the caves was CRAZY. Our favorite part of Japan so far is a little mountain town called 'Ome'. the mountains are stunning. the river is beautiful. we love everything about it! Kent and I decided we are not 'big city' people. we love tokyo- and the cities surrounding it- but we really love the mountains. no traffic, way less stress, and more space!
we drove through Ome and then alongside a VERY steep mountain to get to the caves! once we got onto the mountain- the roads were all single lane and literally clung to the side! they were windy and pretty skinny. there are large convex mirrors on every sharp corner that show any approaching traffic and there were several spots where we had to reverse and find little nooks and crannies to let oncoming traffic by! it was crazy. but so beautiful.
the caves are limestone and really big. Basically a little kid's dream. we walked in to the side of a mountain and got to explore all we wanted!
after the caves- we checked out the accompanying shrine. I read that there are more shrines and temples in Japan than there are homes! and that doesn't surprise me. Every where we go- there are shrines and temples. Big, small, ornate, colorful, miniature, wooden, etc. they are ubiquitous. shrines are dedicated to the Shinto religion and the temples are Buddhist. Japan has intertwined the two religions so temples and shrines are often found together.
this is a teeny shrine we saw inside the caves.
this cool looking spider is EVERYwhere in Japan. they are pretty big and spin elaborately huge webs! we are a bug and spider loving family so think they are pretty neat-o.
this is one of the small towns we drove through to get to the caves. we stopped and had a snack here and took some pictures. all of these house are literally built into the mountainside.
mountain and landslides are a pretty serious concern for much of Japan. with only 30% of land being habitable- and the population being so dense- they build wherever they can.