Hyakujojiki Cave: Hokkaido’s Natural Museum

The author enjoying a little break while the group goes photo crazy as the sun comes out.
The author enjoying a little break while the group goes photo crazy as the sun comes out.
An introduction

Recently I was able to participate in a snowshoe hike with the Hokkaido International Outdoor Club to see the Hyakujojiki Cave. At this time of year, the cave is full of icicles growing from both the ceiling and the floor interspersed with various weird and wonderful sculptures. Led by Leon Roode, an experienced and popular outdoor adventure guide in Hokkaido, our group of 12 drove two hours out of Sapporo to the village of Otaki (which is now part of Date), just east of Toya Lake. From there we hiked with snowshoes through a field and then a forest under lightly falling snow. Suddenly, near the bank of the Tokushunbetsu River, there was the cave . After a little climb, we began our descent into an otherworldly place. Statuary of every sort had formed from improbable directions, frozen drip by frozen drip over the winter. Every year this natural art museum puts everything on display until the temperatures of spring and summer put everything back in storage until winter comes again.

The photos

Editor’s Note: These photos were taken with the author’s cell phone.

The group gathers at the start of the trail as a light snow falls.
The group gathers at the start of the trail as a light snow falls.

 

Snowshoes, poles and packs / The air smells of manure / The start of the tour
Snowshoes, poles and packs / The air smells of manure / The start of the tour

 

Frozen cascades of ice in both directions greeted us at the mouth of the cave.
Frozen cascades of ice in both directions greeted us at the mouth of the cave.

 

The inside of the cave had an otherworldly feel to it. It reminded me of the pods from Alien — just a little.
The inside of the cave had an otherworldly feel to it. It reminded me of the pods from Alien — just a little.

 

Rorschach in ice! What do you see?
Rorschach in ice! What do you see?

 

Among the ice creatures that I encountered in the cave -- Totoro!
Among the ice creatures that I encountered in the cave — Totoro!

 

Wow. To think that all this will be gone in a few months.
Wow. To think that all this will be gone in a few months.

 

Standing between two impressive columns.
Standing between two impressive columns.

 

After the cave we had a short but steep uphill climb and then a beautiful, sunny stroll downhill back to the cars.
After the cave we had a short but steep uphill climb and then a beautiful, sunny stroll downhill back to the cars.
The beautiful peak of Mt. Tokushunbetsu suddenly makes an appearance from behind the clouds.
The beautiful peak of Mt. Tokushunbetsu suddenly makes an appearance from behind the clouds.

 

 

On the return trip, we had a spectacular view of the valley below.
On the return trip, we had a spectacular view of the valley below.

 

Explorer’s Journal is an occasional feature highlighting a first-hand experience in the outdoors of Hokkaido. Submit your story today.


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MV Mielke

Michael Mielke is the associate editor of the Hokkaido Explorer and an English teacher at Little Tree English School and Sapporo University. He loves getting out and about when time and money allows.