Twice yearly around the equinoxes, morning rays of sunlight flow through Kameiwa Cave and reflect on the water in front of it to form an image of a gleaming heart.
This magical event occurs at Noumizo Waterfall, located within Shimizu Keiryu Park in Kimitsu City. This area is not all that far from Tokyo, being located on Chiba Prefecture’s rustic Boso Peninsula—one of our Top 10 Japan Travel Destinations for 2019. Featured on National Geographic, Kameiwa Cave (which means Turtle Rock Cave), formerly a relatively unknown site, gained notoriety for hosting one of the most whimsical sights in all of Japan.
Japan’s most Instagrammable cave
The cave — which is more of an arch embracing a cascading waterfall — gained fame when an Instagram photo of the heart-shaped spectacle went viral in 2015. Since then it’s become a popular tourist attraction. Coming from the land of Studio Ghibli, it’s been appropriately compared to something out of an anime or a fairytale. The glowing light filtering through is undeniably magical.
Though the cave appears to be a glorious natural wonder, its origins are actually more historic than geographic. It was likely constructed in the 1600s as an irrigation tunnel to water nearby rice fields. We wonder if the engineers who fashioned it intended for it to double as a seasonal spectacle, or if its modern-day lure is simply an enchanting coincidence.
The best time to catch a glimpse — and a photo sure to get scores if not hundreds of likes — of the mystical heart is on spring and fall mornings (around the equinox) between 6 and 8 a.m.
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