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Region
Shikoku
Island
Shikoku
Largest City
Tokushima
Population
823,997

Iya Valley

Where bountiful hiking meets thrill-seeking.

Located in the center of the Japanese island of Shikoku is Iya, a relatively unexplored tranquil valley in western Tokushima Prefecture. The valley is steep, mountainous and several vine bridges allow for hiking gorges cut by the Iya River.

Vine bridges

Photo by: ©Tourism Shikoku/©JNTO Oku Iya Niju Kazura Bridge.

The area used to have 13 kazurabashi (vine suspension bridge) for valley dwellers to use. Only a pair of the bridges that cross the valley stand today and travelers can hike them just as the locals did! First, head upstream and try the Oku Iya Niju Kazura double-vine bridge to get a feel for things before crossing Iya Kazurabashi.

One of the three rarest bridges in Japan, Iya Kazurabashi is 45 meters long, two meters wide and 14 meters above the Iya River. This bridge will make even the most die-hard adrenaline junkies quake in their boots, but in reality, it’s very well-maintained and is rebuilt every three years.

Mysterious statue & onsen

Photo by: ©Tourism Shikoku/©JNTO The peeing boy.

The area around Oboke City is filled with staggering natural beauty and a few surprises. If you’ve always wanted to see the iconic Manneken Pis bronze statue in Brussels, you can knock that off your bucket list because Iya Valley has its own “peeing boy statue” — except he’s 200 meters above sea level!

If you manage to make your way unscathed to the most dangerous spot in the valley, known as Nana Magari, you will be able to find this statue. Just don’t try to imitate him. It’s said that the statue was erected because local boys and tourists couldn’t resist the idea of proving their manliness by getting dangerously close to the edge and relieving themselves.

You can’t come this far to enjoy unspoiled nature and outdoor activities without getting in on some hot spring action. In fact, a visit to Hotel Iya onsen is more than enough to help fulfill your heart’s wanderlust. In order to reach the hotel’s rotenburo, or open air bath, you take a five-minute cable car ride some 170 meters down into the valley, a sight that is sure to be spectacular in autumn when the trees in the valley come alive with color.

You are sure to find true serenity as you relax in an open air bath located alongside the flowing Iya River. Tucked deep within the valley, there’s nothing but the singing of birds and the sound of wind rustling in the trees. Isolation never felt so good!

Interested in hiking more nature in Japan? Check out our hiking section.

Trivia

Iya valley and Kazurabashi vine bridge, Tokushima Prefecture

Tokushima

Bordered by rugged mountain cliffs on one side and ocean whirlpools on the other, travelling through Tokushima feels like an Indiana Jones adventure.

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How To Get There

By train

To Oboke station from Tokyo station it’s bout a 5-hour train ride, including about 3 hours by bullet train.

By bus

Iya Valley is a 40-minute bus ride from Awaikeida station. Iya Kazura Bashi is a 60-minute bus ride from Oboke station.

By plane

Tokushima Airport is a 1-hour-and-15-minute plane ride from Tokyo.

Where To Stay

Hotel Kazurabashi
  • Nishi-iyayama-mura Zentoku 33-1 Miyoshi-Shi, Tokushima 778-0102
  • 9.2/10
  • 1.0 km
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Chiiori
  • Higashiiya Tsurui 209 Miyoshi-Shi, Tokushima 778-0206
  • 9.8/10
  • 2.7 km
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Iya Onsen
  • Ikedamachi Matsuo Matsumoto 367-2 Miyoshi-Shi, Tokushima 778-0165
  • 8.9/10
  • 5.4 km
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Obokekyo Mannaka
  • Yamashirocho Nishiu 1644-1 Miyoshi-Shi, Tokushima 779-5451
  • 8.9/10
  • 7.1 km
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