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Where thrills and tradition get real.

For “hidden Japan” at its most serene and startling, take the trek out to marvel at the sea of clouds cascading over the mountains and valleys of Oboke in Tokushima Prefecture.

Photo by: Jeremy Moorhead Beautiful gorges in Oboke.

Start with a leisurely boat ride through the ravine or try adventurous white-water rafting. Take a brisk hike with a hair-raising vine bridge crossings on the bridges of Iya. Begin and finish each day in one of the region’s many onsens with lush forest as a backdrop. Keep an eye and ear out for monkeys, wild boar, deer, fireflies and kites.

Iya Valley

Iya valley and Kazurabashi vine bridge, Tokushima Prefecture
Go early in the morning and watch where your feet fall on a perilous perch (Iya no Kazurabashi) over the river. If that’s a bridge too far; there’s a nearby gallery on the intricacies of local bridge building using the years-old tradition of mountain vines.

Alternatively go view the Unkai (“Sea of Clouds”) from a viewing deck from several vantage points around the Oboke area. This white puffs that carpet the landscape are visible at dawn. People flock to this natural phenomenon from all over the world.

River thrills

Photo by: Jeremy Moorhead Find “Biwa no Taki” waterfall on your hike.

A pleasure boat will take you down the Yoshino River which is one of Japan’s “three greatest rivers.” You can see shoals of fish, ducks and the occasional freshwater crab. The huge rocks which border the river are classified as a Natural Treasure of the prefecture and an exceptional area of scenic beauty. Look out for the rock formations like the Sleeping Lion. The 30-minute return journey takes you to Koboke Gorge where the waters become too rapid to go further.

Photo by: Jeremy Moorhead View from the river boat.

Navigating rivers in a placid or exhilarated fashion – the choice is yours with half a dozen companies competing to get you on board and safely enjoying the thrills and spills. The World Rafting Championship was held here in Japan for the first time in 2017. Don’t forget to don your life jacket!

Photo by: Jeremy Moorhead

If you’re there in spring, the rocks are covered with azalea blossoms which make for fine photogenic contrasts. When you’re back on dry land make time to sample the local ayu (or sweetfish) with a rustic home-made soba, a skewer of deko mawashi (grilled tofu and yam cake with Miso paste on a stick) and mountain vegetables in one of several cafes dotting the area.

Enjoy the autumnal beauty of the area at October’s month-long Iya Heike Festival. For true escapism, discover Oboke, where thrills and tradition come together.

Discover the hidden gems of all 47 prefectures in Japan.


Iya valley and Kazurabashi vine bridge, Tokushima Prefecture

Iya Valley

Where bountiful hiking meets thrill-seeking.


Things To Know

Fees and Advice

Pleasure boat: 30 minutes boat trip from near Oboke-kyo bus stop. Adult ¥1080.  |  Kazurabashi Yume-Butai Stage. Includes visitor centre, cafeteria, shops and vine bridge gallery. Entry free.  |  Unkai Hachi-go-Giri (sea of clouds) tour. ¥2500 upwards. Check with your hotel or local taxis to arrange depending on weather. 

How To Get There


6 Nishiiyayamamura Tokuzennishi, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima-ken 778-0105, Japan

By train

Tokyo by Shinkansen to Okayama station (3 hours, 30 minutes) change to Nanpu (limited express service) to Oboke station (1 hour, 40 minutes).

From Kochi station to Oboke station by Nanpu (50 minutes).

By bus

Area is served by Shikoku Kotsu buses, with extra shuttle buses between Oboke and Iya no Kazurabashi (30 minutes) at weekends April to November. Daily during Golden Week and summer holiday period.

Where To Stay

Hotel Obokekyo Mannaka
  • 1644-1 Yamashirocho Nishiu, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima, 779-5451 Japan
  • ¥15,500 - ¥40,000
  • 4.62/5 (1,576 reviews)
  • 1.1 km
Oboke Onsen Sunriver Oboke
  • 1259-1 Yamashirocho Nishiu, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima, 779-5451 Japan
  • ¥9,900 - ¥99,000
  • 4.36/5 (938 reviews)
  • 4.0 km
Iyakei Onsen Hikyonoyu
  • 401 Nishiiyayamamura Oinochi, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima, 778-0101 Japan
  • ¥20,990 - ¥44,300
  • 4.33/5 (385 reviews)
  • 4.5 km
Iya Kanko Ryokan
  • 161 Nishiiyayamamura Zentoku, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima, 778-0102 Japan
  • ¥7,500 - ¥15,000
  • 4.8/5 (107 reviews)
  • 6.2 km