Surreal Places: Akiyoshidai, Japan

Another World Altogether

Akiyoshidai is the kind of place where you’d think you are in another world. In many ways, it reminds me of the remote Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland.

Situated in Yamaguchi, the westernmost prefecture on Japan’s main island, Honshu, Akihoshidai is an endless expanse of green carpet set against eerie-looking white and gray limestones that peek out from the ground like ancient memorials. Not a single tree grows here. This surreal space is designated as a special natural treasure by the Japanese government, and is popular with trekkers.

Akiyoshidai was born out of violence. More than three hundred million years ago, it was a stretch of coral reef at the bottom of the ocean. Through the work of submarine volcanoes and the movement of ocean plates, the reef morphed into a limestone plain scattered with the aforementioned rock pillars as well as gigantic karst caverns.

A Mysterious Underworld Beneath

The ground changes which formed Akiyoshidai also created the Akiyoshido Cavern, the largest limestone cavern in Asia. An amazing sight is the Hundred Dishes, an accumulation of lime that looks like more than 500 plates stacked on one another. Another highlight is the massive Golden Pillar, a travertine pillar 15 meters high and four meters in diameter.

The Hundred Dishes
The Golden Pillar

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