If you follow a narrow path bordered with small statues and stone lanterns through the trees up the hillside, you will find a cool, mossy cave with a tiny waterfall and many small statues.
After losing a battle against the Heike clan, Genji general Yoritomo Minamoto fled and hid in this cave in Yugawara. When pursuers came to search the cave, a bird flew out, and the pursuers assumed the cave was empty, so they didn't search it after all. After this close call Minamoto went in to found the Kamakura Shogunate.
I do love a place with a story! This story took place in 1180, which is about 840 years ago. This interesting place is completely un-touristy. There are no souvenir shops or English signs. There is just the path, the cave, the waterfall and the statues. It all has a half-forgotten feeling to it, which for me is a large part of its charm.
The climb only takes about 20 minutes from the car park which is on the far side of the tunnel.
Take the bus for Moto-Hakone from Yugawara Station and get off at “Shitodo-no-Iwaya Entrance”. From the bus stop it is a 10 minute walk. If you are driving, there is plenty of space for parking.
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I came to Japan in 2003 to teach English. I lived in Shiga prefecture for one year, and it still holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Kyoto for nine years, then moved to Machida, Tokyo in 2014 after meeting my Japanese partner. I love to take photos, and my Japan in Pictures Facebook page has some 40,000 followers. I have been the Regional Partner for Yamanashi Prefecture since 2014. I am enjoying exploring the prefectures around Tokyo (I like to get off the beaten track), and I hope the photos and stories I share will encourage more people to discover this wonderful country.