The underground chambers of Mu Valley will make you feel like Indiana Jones as you journey on a scavenger hunt to save a king and his people!
To save the king and his people who are entrapped in darkness, you must gather clues to find the missing ring that will reconnect the chain of time! Get ready. Get set. GO!
This quest will have you searching high and low as you make your way through the caves of Mikawa Mu Valley.
In an ancient time, an incredible civilization in the middle of the Pacific Ocean was suddenly covered in darkness and buried in the earth. An entrance to this mysterious lost world is right here in Japan!
After you enter the dark tunnels, you will go from one clue to the next while passing walls carved in ancient petroglyphs. There is a subterranean stream you have to cross using stepping stones, a rushing underground waterfall, and quiet ponds colored in beautiful lights. Ancient-appearing stone tunnels, walls and statues are around every corner: you’ll feel like you stepped back in time and into a different world!
When you get to Mikawa Mu Valley, purchase your tickets but don’t go in right away. Take time to read through the pamphlet they give you. It will introduce the characters you will be seeing, the story line, the objective and the instructions. It’s much easier to get familiar with what is happening if you are in a well-lit area. Take time to read everything before you are inside wondering what you are supposed to be searching for!
They have three different scavenger hunts that you can choose. There’s a brown, blue and green book, and each has a different level of difficulty. Brown is the easiest, then blue, and finally green is the most difficult. We took one of each color thinking we could do them all, it wasn’t a good idea! We ended up just sticking with the brown one. It was a good challenge for our first attempt! The green book was not translated into English yet when we went.
Remember: Take time to read the whole guidebook before entering!
What to expect at Mikawa Mu Valley
The entrance fee is ¥1500 for an adult and ¥950 for a child. Children 3 and under are free!
It took us almost 2 hours to complete the adventure, but if you do all three you could spend the whole day here! We got there right as it opened and there were not very many people. By the time we finished, the parking lot was full and there were quite a few people inside and outside the tunnels!
Mikawa Mu Valley hours are 9:30 to 17:00, but they stop admitting you at 16:30. I would recommend getting there as early as you can, especially on weekends, and make sure to give yourself ample time to make it all the way through without being rushed.
You receive one “Volume” per person, so you can complete multiple adventures in one day depending on how many people you have in your group!
Even on really hot days, the inside of the cave stays very cool. I was glad to have brought sweatshirts for all of us!
Music and sounds play over speakers throughout the whole journey. It was a bit intense for Royce; he kept running to us saying he was scared when he heard the noises, but then he would run ahead again to play. I don’t think it was frightening; it was just a bit dramatic.
There is no bathroom inside the tunnels. There is one right behind the ticket booth and right as you exit the caves.
As always make sure your kids are safe! It is wet and the only light is from small lights that hang on the walls or ceiling above the trail. There are some areas that have bars surrounding a drop off, but a child could fall between them if they were unsupervised. If you have a young child that you don’t think can walk the whole time, I would recommend a child carrier, not a stroller. There are a few stairs near the beginning but other than that, just sloped inclines.
The best part of the adventure?
Digging for rocks!
If you have read many of our posts, you may have noticed that as long as there are rocks for our kids to find, pick or throw in some water, they are happy. In fact, I had to make a rule that they can only bring home one rock per day (and keep them outside) because they find so many “special” rocks!
When we told them that we were going to be digging for new colorful rocks, they were beyond excited! It was probably the best part for me too, seeing how happy they were searching for these pebbles.
For ¥700 they give you a small star shaped container and 20 minutes to search through large boxes of sand for polished, colorful rocks. Royce had his filled in about 5 minutes! Then he was all too happy to help his friend who was there too.
The other option is panning for gold!
For ¥500 you have 20 minutes to pan for gold. You can either don the water boots and do it the old-fashioned way, wading into the water, or they have a tub setup that you can search through. They have it pretty well stocked in the tub. It’s supposed to be much easier than finding it in the pond!
For ¥1400 the kids had an awesome time, and the geologic fun hasn’t stopped. They played with the rocks for a couple of hours today and I’m sure that will be the case for days to come!
Dining and Gift Shop
Right at the entrance to the tunnels, there are tables for you to sit and eat. They have a little stand that sells ice cream and hotdogs; tasty for ¥300, but you could buy the equivalent at 7-Eleven for ¥100!
Across the street on the second floor there is a restaurant called “Curry Kingdom Viracocha.” They make lots of dishes with curry, but there is a wide selection of typical Japanese fare. Matt tried the tonkatsu pork cutlet and liked it. I had the soba noodles and would have really enjoyed them had the kids not loved the meal, too, and eaten so much of it!
To order your food you use a vending machine to select your food and pay; the machine will print a ticket for you. Make sure to bring your slip of paper to the counter where someone will take half of your ticket. This lets them know what you ordered so they can make it for you! We waited a long time without our food until we figured that last part out!
There is a gift shop downstairs. We got the kids bath bombs with hidden dinosaur eggs on the inside. Inside the eggs were little dinosaurs! The shop has a good selection of fun little toys, gifts and treats. There are also beautiful rocks and minerals to admire or purchase. They have a public bathroom as well.
In the afternoons, there is a public bath you can use for ¥450 per adult and ¥300 for kids. There are also rooms to rent out for groups of up to 40 people.
Plan your trip:
It takes about 50 minutes to drive to Mu Valley from base. There is a shrine and a water wheel in the area. We have also stopped to watch some of the local fisherman in the area as they fished the river. Have you seen the size of their fishing poles?
While you’re in the area, check out Three Falls!