KANIWA CAVE, Otaki, Chichibu, Saitama, Japan
Kaniwa- literally Garden of the Gods
The sign shown in my previous post basically says Kaniwa cave was formed about 50,000 years ago by erosion of the limestone schist by the Arakawa river which you can see below the cave. Three different surveys have uncovered relics from the Jomon era as well as later periods, suggesting the cave was used as a dwelling over a long period of time. In particular, stone implements from the beginning of the Jomon Period (around 12,000 years ago) including stone spear heads and scrapers were found, along with earthenware which is among the oldest discovered in Japan.
As the cave is limestone, archeologists discovered well preserved human bones, as well as bones of animals such as monkeys, bears, boar, rabbit, tanuki raccoon dogs, kamoshika (Japanese serow), squirrels, flying squirrels and fish (salmon family). Some of the bones showed evidence that stone tools had been used to presumably kill and eat the animals.
The blurb says the cave is valuable for what it can tell us about the Jomon period way of life. To me it is a nice place to go and wonder what life must have been like deep in the forest in the steep and sparsely inhabited mountains thousands of years ago. What did they think about before they went to sleep in the cave? Probably the same thing we do, we must find a bigger cave and furnish it better with animal skins. Or how am I going to sleep with cold feet? Jomon cave dwellers with cold tootsies!
Now for my favourite sign at the beginning of the walk: In a nutshell it says ‘anything could happen.’
It says you could face all kinds of dangers, probably most likely slipping from the path. So the path is closed from mid-December until early April as it is likely to be icy in Winter.