The Iya Valley in Tokushima Prefecture is a place of beautiful nature filled with famous locations where you can enjoy the astonishing landscape and even test your courage! The area has been attracting a lot of attention of late from tourists visiting Japan. Here are some of the places you should definitely try and visit!
1. Oku-Iya Niju Kazura Bashi (Oku-Iya Double Vine Bridges)
One of the most popular and thrilling things to do at the Iya Valley is to cross the Iya Vine Bridge, located at Nishi-Iya. People in the know, however, go further deep into the hinterland of the valley to an area called Oku-Iya Valley (Deep Iya Valley) where the Oku-Iya Double Vine Bridges are located. As the name hints, there are two bridges here - Otoko-bashi (Male Bridge) and Onna-bashi (Female Bridge) - and together they are affectionately known as the Meoto-bashi (wedded bridges).
Located in a remote area away from any of the town’s hot spring spas and restaurants, these bridges nestle deep in the forest and the place is so quiet it might even give you goosebumps. If you’re not a fan of these sorts of bridges, you can descend to the river and go on a highly recommended hike there.
Fee: 550 JPY for adults, 350 JPY for children (elementary school students)
If you’re afraid of heights be cautious because the bridges sway a quite a lot even when you tread slowly.
Wear slip-resistant shoes and obey the rules when crossing them.
2. Manual Cable Car "Yaen"
A short distance from the Oku-Iya Double Vine Bridges, you find Yaen (which means "wild monkey"), a sort of wooden cable car. Riding Yaen is an awesome way to enjoy an “aerial hike” and also a great alternative for those who are afraid of crossing the vine bridges.
Back in the old days, this ride was used to cross the river for all sorts of everyday purposes. All you have to do to go to the other side is pull the rope.
The fresh green leaves of summer, the autumn foliage and the winter’s snow all bring dramatic changes to the spectacular scenery you find at the vine bridges and the cable car.
3. The Peeing Boy of Iya Valley
The Peeing Boy statue is a curious and very famous tourist spot in the Iya Valley.
The image of the little boy standing on top of the protruding rock over the cliff combined with the magnificent landscape below him is quite surreal.
The statue is located at a spot approximately 200m (660ft) high above the valley floor, and just taking a quick peek below is enough to make you go weak at the knees. The Peeing Boy statue was built here based on anecdotes depicting local children and travelers who would test their courage by standing on top of this rock.
You don't want to drop your camera here!
4. Oboke Gorge Pleasure Cruise
Pleasure boat tours allow for a magnificent view of the Oboke Gorge, a deep-walled, V-shaped valley located in the middle section of Yoshino River, the biggest river flowing across Tokushima Prefecture. Oboke Gorge is so beautiful that the Japanese government has designated it as a national scenic spot!
Lay back and contemplate the beautiful views this slow-paced cruise presents you. The curious rock formations along the river are remarkable, and the scenery changes dramatically throughout the four seasons, with fresh green leaves during summer, yellow-and-red foliage during fall, and gorgeous white snow during winter.
Fee: 1,080 JPY for adults, 540 JPY for children (3 years old to elementary school students)
Duration: Round-trip 30 minutes (4km)
The colorful carp flags floating over Yoshino River during spring are stunning!
5. Hotel Kazurabashi
If there’s one spot that you definitely have to visit it’s the popular Hotel Kazurabashi. The reason for such popularity is the cable car that takes you to the opened-air hot springs. Adults and children as well can enjoy this attraction!
After the exciting ride, you reach your final destination where you can soak in a relaxing hot spring and admire the magnificent view of the Iya Valley.
The facilities also include Goemon-buro baths (a type of bathtub resembling a large pot heated from below with firewood), foot baths, and a resting area where you can sit around the fire. This is the perfect spot to unwind and rest your body from a day of traveling.
Tokushima’s Iya Valley has a lot of famous places where mother nature seems to weave beautiful landscapes. Forget about the hustle and bustle of your daily life and enjoy the rich environment Iya Valley has to offer you.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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