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Limestone cave 'Lover's Sanctuary' lures couples in western Japan

This image captured from the Niimi Municipal Government's official sightseeing website shows the "lover's fountain" in the Makido limestone cave.

NIIMI, Okayama -- A limestone cave here in western Japan is becoming a popular site for couples following its selection by a nationwide non-profit organization as a "Lover's Sanctuary."

The Makido limestone cave, which is about 450 meters long, houses ponds and stalactites of various shapes. Its main features include rimstone formations at a spot called "a thousand rice fields," and a large hall called "dragon palace," which features countless stalactites and columns extending from the ceiling to the floor.

Visitors can arrive at the "lover's fountain" after passing through a heart-shaped hole in a rock formation. The inside of the cave is lit up by colorful LED lights.

The Niimi Municipal Government in 2018 released 360-degree virtual reality images showing the inside of the cave on a website to promote tourism. In 2019, a photo session for women and a cosplay event were successfully staged in the cave.

The lover's fountain was recognized as a Lover's Sanctuary by the Area Activation Supporting Center in the central Japan prefecture of Shizuoka in October 2019. The local government plans to set up a monument with a Lover's Sanctuary plaque it received from the center.

The cave entrance fee per person is 1,000 yen for those of high school age and up, 800 yen for junior high school students and 500 yen for elementary school children.

For inquiries, call the office on 0867-74-3100 (in Japanese).

(Japanese original by Katsumi Ishikawa, Okayama Bureau)

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