Home > Focus on Japan 2008, Travel > Tourist Ice Trap

Tourist Ice Trap

August 26th, 2008

Since it was raining so much our one full day in the area, Sachi and I decided to try out the local Ice Caverns. Sounded grand, and the images in the pamphlet showed towering columns of glittering ice. You get the impression that you’ll be wandering around this great cavern with these things jutting up around you, reaching up to the roof of the cave. Okay. So we went, and paid our three bucks each. By the time we were out, I was commenting that they should have paid us six bucks for going through that.

Sachi had a great time, but only because she really enjoys it when I get royally pissed–she thinks it’s the funniest stuff ever. Me, I was amazed they could keep such a place open. First off, the railings that you absolutely needed to grip on 90% of the time were freezing cold. The caves themselves were cold, but you could bear that because it was atmospheric–the railings you had to grip hard, which froze your hands stiff in a minute or less. No warnings outside to use gloves.

Second, the cave got really claustrophobic the last half of the way down, making you crouch as you went more and more–then got incredibly narrow at one point, so much so that you either had to slide down a freezing, wet, rocky surface on your ass, or else do the damnedest imitation of low-as-you-can-go limbo in order to avoid that. Seriously, it was so narrow you couldn’t even crawl through unless it was on your stomach–not to mention that part was a 30-degree downward angle on wet, cold rock. One thinks they could note this before you commit yourself, which, by that point, you were. I remember praying that they didn’t let seniors down there. Below is Sachi after the narrow part (I wasn’t able to un-contort myself enough to take a photo of the worst part), smiling because she’s learning so many new cuss words.


And the payoff, once you were down there? Dirty ice, followed by a quick glance at some things that were probably ice columns behind a small grated opening. Below is a flash photo of them:


Then you climb out. That’s the whole show.

When we got out, Sachi went to the restrooms while I waited near the entrance gate where an employee, maybe fifty years old, was taking tickets. I paid attention because a couple of seniors just happened to be there. They asked the guy, “Is the cave wet?” The guy answered, “Not at all!” A total lie–like many caves, maybe this one more than most, all the surfaces were wet to dripping. It was an ice cave, for crying out loud.

I tried to tell the couple that, aside from being wet, the hand rails were freezing cold and gloves would be called for, if they had them. They looked to the ticket guy for confirmation. “Oh, it just seems like they’re cold because it’s an ice cave, it’s cold in there!” I then tried to describe the really narrow part, pantomiming the contortions you needed to go into. The guy laughed it off and encouraged the couple, easily in their 60’s, to go on through.

That guy should be taken out and shot.

Categories: Focus on Japan 2008, Travel Tags: by
  1. Stuart
    August 27th, 2008 at 03:53 | #1

    I always wondered what was in those ice caves!

  2. Karen
    August 27th, 2008 at 07:48 | #2

    Well, it seems funny from here, behind my nice room temperature keyboard… And the picture of the incarcerated, somewhat anti-climactic ice columns is hilarious. Perhaps they put up the barrier to keep them from trying to get out of that godawful place….

    What did Sachi think – that the older couple should have gone in, or not?

  3. August 27th, 2008 at 09:56 | #3

    So i gotta ask if you’ve read this story:

    Don’t you think this is the BEST anecdotal reason to allow foreigners into japan? To increase steps to invite young and talented individuals to work, study and play in japan? I would be great to see some non-japanese olympians playing for japan(are there any btw?)

  4. Luis
    August 27th, 2008 at 09:59 | #4

    Stuart: Now you know! I suffer so you don’t have to!

    Karen: Sachi was in the restrooms at the time. When I asked her about it, she just continued laughing at my grouchiness…

    Mages: what’s the lesson? Shut up and put up with it? 😛 That’s certainly the spirit here a lot of the time….

  5. August 27th, 2008 at 10:56 | #5

    have you posted your thoughts on the Biden thing yet? He was who i was hoping for but i’d be interested in your opinion.

  6. rocky granite brain
    August 27th, 2008 at 14:05 | #6

    But that ice looks TOTALLY AMAZING!!! Was it REALLY water frozen SOLID!???!!!
    I TOTALLY would have risked my LIFE and even gotten DAMP and COLD FINGERS
    to see THAT!

    Could you PLEASE post SEVERAL HUNDRED MORE pictures of this CRYSTALLINE

    Did you get any SAMPLES of it? What did it taste like??

    Enquiring minds want to know!


  7. August 27th, 2008 at 14:59 | #7


    CHECK YOUR PHONE;) oh… your phone already has tons of pictures of a cute japanese woman named sachi… the story must be true!

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