A Shikoku landscape carved out by rich nature
The V-shaped valley continues on for its total length of 10km along the Iya River, a tributary of the Yoshino River located in Miyoshi City, Tokushima Prefecture. There are lush forests due to the high level of precipitation in the area, and since the valley has cliffs which soar for several hundred meters, it has become popular as one of Japan’s Three Secluded Regions which retains a largely unspoiled landscape. Access to the area is not easy so rental car is convenient. There are few train runs, but you can take bus or taxi from JR Awaikeda Station as a starting point.
Take in the full dynamic view
A tourist spot in the Iya Valley that cannot be missed is the Manneqin Pis statue standing on one of the cliffs overlooking the Iya River. The statue of a boy peeing was created based on a story of the local children taking a test of courage, and it stands on a cliff 200 meters over the valley. The Iya-no-Kazura Bridge is a 15m-long and 40m-high suspension bridge woven from bower vines which can have diameters up to 15cm which is thrilling to say the least. It’s said that the bridge was built to be easily cut down by members of the Taira clan who were escaping into the Iya region when they lost battles in the past. At present, the bridge undergoes rebuilding work once every 3 years for safety. The Iya Onsen, a secluded hot spring which can also be used for day trips, is reached by cable car going down 170 meters to the bottom of the valley where you can get a large panoramic view of the valley as you head for the open-air bath with the water flowing from the source spring. At the popular gender-separated open-air bath which is built so that it juts out into the Iya River, you can spend a luxurious time while admiring the lovely view and listening to the sounds of Mother Nature. Of course, overnight stays are possible.