For many years I have seen a spectacular sea cave used on promotional materials for the Izu Peninsula, and really wanted to see it for myself. With no knowledge of the place I just assumed it was out of bounds to someone like me who has to use public transport to get to such sights but when I actually realised it was accessible from the most southerly train station I began to make plans.
Those plans were finally realised back in June. The train ride down the east coast of the peninsula on the Izu Kyūkō Line was straightforward and my arrival Izukyu-Shimoda Station was timed to coincide with a 17 minute bus journey to Toji Beach. That all sounds quite easy really and it was as I had to plan it well as there are only a few S57 buses going to Ryugu Sea Cave each day. I took the 10:50 am one but there are others at 13:35 and 16:05. Getting back was always going to be something of a problem but more on that later.
The cave is on the other side of the green covered rock formation in the photo below.
Just a short walk up the road was the entry point to the cave with steps leading down to it through a kind of wooden torii gate.
The arch in the rock is pretty impressive but it is the natural skylight window in the rock ceiling which is the most awesome sight.
This was all created by a mix of volcanic activity and erosion by wave action. The cave consequently grew bigger resulting in the weaker sections being washed away and the ceiling became unstable and partially collapsed thereby creating a large open topped cave.
Of course all eyes are on the archway to the sea but the rock face behind should not be completely ignored.
Next was the short walk up to the observation point on top of the cave. The gaping hole is about 40 metres in diameter due to the cave ceiling collapsing after becoming unstable. There’s even a small temple on the short trail circuit that goes around the top.
From the observation point above you see how erosion proceeded in two directions thereby creating a heart-like shape which is just about noticable in my first picture below. Due to the heart shape, this place has become popular among many lovers. I was there on my own though and was more impressed by the coastal views.
A little further up the road is what is known as Sandbank; a “sand skiing field” created naturally when sand or rock fragments eroded by wind and wave actions from the seaward cliffs were carried and deposited by sea currents. Sand carried by wind action is deposited on the slope but falls back down easily due to the steep angle at which it is deposited. The process repeats and eventually a sandy slope with a steep gradient is created and maintained. Something like that anyway! I’m not sure I totally understand!
When I arrived I saw a plastic red sledge and just assumed it was there for patrons to use to freely go down the slope. WRONG! Looking back now, it’s crazy I’d even think that! When I’d climbed to the top of the slope a woman appeared and shouted up to me something about it being hers. I apologised profusely but she insisted it was ok to use it once even though I said I was maybe too heavy for it.
As I looked down from the top it did look quite scary and I was a little apprehensive about maybe going too fast! I needn’t have worried as I went so slowly, and my previous experience of such a thing in Southern Vietnam in 2007 really should’ve prepared me for what did happen! There were many more apologies from me to the lady whose husband and kids then appeared. We did all chat for a bit and I was even offered the chance to do it again but politely declined.
There was a cave in the distance so I wandered over to that and climbed up to get inside. The view of the beach from that cave was really beautiful.
As I said earlier, getting to the cave is one thing but returning is another! There are return buses but the next one back after arriving was not for a few hours and the sea cave is a place which doesn’t really take too long to see it all. Even with the beach and the sandboarding I was still finished way before the next bus so decided to just take the 80 minute walk back to the station. There are many tunnels at the start of the walk.
As the tweet above shows I was actually able to get a different bus after walking for half of what I expected. The views on that walk were stunning at times too as I passed a few more glorious-looking white sandy beaches.
The Ryugu Sea Cave is a fantastic sight and the beaches in the vicinity are really beautiful but doing it all by public transport does take a fair bit of effort and energy. I certainly thought it was all worth it though.
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