PHOTO: Divers find deep cavern in Japan's longest underwater cave

February 21, 2014

By MASANOBU HIGASHIYAMA/ Staff Writer

BUNGO-ONO, Oita Prefecture--Divers have discovered a cavern of great proportions within the Inazumi Underwater Stalactite Cave here in southwestern Japan, believed to be the longest of its kind in the country.

Surveys in the 1970s and 1990s confirmed the Inazumi cave contains about 1,000 meters of water channels, part of which are open to the public.

Earlier this month, a team of adventurers, led by 53-year-old Hitoshi Miho from Kanagawa Prefecture, advanced about 300 meters from the innermost known part of the cave.

There they reached an air pocket above the water measuring about 10 tatami mats and found a narrow stalactite hole that leads even farther into the cave.

Though the gaping entrance enticed the divers, they did not venture into it.

Another team led by Masayoshi Kondo, a 56-year-old cave diver from Okinawa Prefecture, is planning an expedition from Feb. 23 to conduct detailed measurements.

By MASANOBU HIGASHIYAMA/ Staff Writer
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A previously undiscovered air pocket greets divers at the end of an 800-meter dive in the Inazumi Underwater Stalactite Cave in Bungo-Ono, Oita Prefecture, on Feb. 6. The gaping cave hole in the center is the entrance to additional interiors. (Provided by Hitoshi Miho)

A previously undiscovered air pocket greets divers at the end of an 800-meter dive in the Inazumi Underwater Stalactite Cave in Bungo-Ono, Oita Prefecture, on Feb. 6. The gaping cave hole in the center is the entrance to additional interiors. (Provided by Hitoshi Miho)

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  • A previously undiscovered air pocket greets divers at the end of an 800-meter dive in the Inazumi Underwater Stalactite Cave in Bungo-Ono, Oita Prefecture, on Feb. 6. The gaping cave hole in the center is the entrance to additional interiors. (Provided by Hitoshi Miho)
  • A diver explores deep inside the Inazumi Underwater Stalactite Cave in Bungo-Ono, Oita Prefecture, on Feb. 6. (Provided by Hitoshi Miho)
  • The floor of the cave is covered with rocks, which possibly fell from the roof, at some spots inside the Inazumi Underwater Stalactite Cave. (Provided by Masayoshi Kondo)

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