Iya Valley [祖谷渓]

Iya Valley
Iya Valley

Manneken Pis of Iya Valley
Manneken Pis of Iya Valley

Map of Oboke, Koboke, Iya

Iya Valley is a valley about 6 to 7 km east of Ôboke and Koboke gorges.
It is a valley formed by Iya River which is one of the tributaries of Yoshino River.

Iya River formed the deep V-shaped valley over 10 km long, and the depth ranges reaches a few hundred meters.

This valley has heavy rainfall, so the mountains are covered with dense forests.

Taira Clan had held real power in Japan since the 9th century.

But they were beaten by Minamoto Clan in the late 12th century, then went to ruin.

The surviving members escaped in all directions in Japan, and had hidden themselves to the deep mountains from Minamoto Clan.

It is said that Iya Valley was one of such places.

The junction of Iya River and Yoshino River is the entrance of Iya Valley.
There are few houses about 15 km along the deep valley from the entrance.

There is a small statue of Manneken Pis (小便小僧, "Shôben-kozô" in Japanese) at about 10 km from the entrance of the valley.

Of course, Manneken Pis in Brussels is famous, but one in Iya Valley was created by a sculptor in Tokushima in 1968.

Cable car open-air bath in Iya Onsen
Cable car open-air bath in Iya Onsen
Photo by on-photo.com

Hinoji Gorge in Iya Valley
Hinoji Gorge in Iya Valley
Photo by Tokushima Prefecture

It is put by the road, but is on a protruding rock from a steep cliff about 200 meters high.

There is Iya Onsen (祖谷温泉) hot spring near Manneken Pis

There is only one hotel.
The open-air bath is at the bottom of the valley, so a cable car to go to the bath is set up.

There is Hinoji Gorge (ひの字渓谷) about 3 km from Iya Onsen.

From the observatory, we can see the view of the gorge of Iya River turning sharply.

"Hinoji" means "the character of 'hi'".
"" is the character of "hi" in Japanese, and the river is just the shape.

Kazura-bashi in Iya Valley
Kazura-bashi in Iya Valley

Kazura-bashi in Iya Valley
Kazura-bashi
Photo by Tokushima Prefecture

The most popular spot in Iya Valley is Kazura-bashi (かずら橋, Kazura Bridge).

It is located about 20 km from the entrance of the valley.

It is a suspension bridge made by vines.
It is 45 meters long and 2 meters wide, and is set up about 14 meters above the river.

It is said that the bridge existed in this village in the 17th century.

The vines of the bridge are replaced every three years because of rapid deterioration.

Only many crossbars are set up on the bridge.
So crossing this bridge is very thrilling.

But it is not an attraction but an important way of the residents.

Kazura-bashi over Iya River
Kazura-bashi over Iya River

View of Ochiai Village
View of Ochiai Village
Photo by Tokushima Prefecture

There is Ochiai Village (落合集落) about 35 km from the entrance of the valley.

The forests on the mountainside were cleared and the village was constructed on the steep slope in the 17th century.
It is said that there is folklore about the hidden members of Taira Clan in this village.

The difference in height in the village is about 390 meters.

There are still some house with thatched roof.
Visitors can stay in some houses as Minshuku inn.

Ochiai Village in autumn
Ochiai Village in autumn

Iya soba
Iya soba

By the way, soba is a Japanese noodle dish of buckwheat, Iya soba is a local dish in Iya area.
The shorter and thicker soba noodle is made from only buckwheat flour with no binding agent, so the dish has a simple flavor.

How to get here

By JR limited express, to Awa-Ikeda station, about 1 hour and 25 minutes from Okayama, about 1 hour from Takamatsu, about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Tokushima.

From Awa-Ikeda station, the route bus to Kazura-bashi and Ochiai village is operated every about 3 hours.
1 hour and 15 minutes to Kazara-bashi, 1 hour and 50 minutes to Ochiai.
(This bus also stops at Ôboke station.)

Or, by JR limited express, to Ôboke station, about 1 hour and 35 to 45 minutes from Okayama, about 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes from Takamatsu, about 45 minutes from Kotohira, about 50 minutes from Kochi.

From Ôboke station, the route bus to Iya Onsen and Hinoji Gorge is operated every about 3 hours.
30 minutes to Iya Onsen, 37 minutes to Kunigataki stop (Hinoji Gorge).
This bus goes to "Kazurabashi-Yumebutai", and the terminal is a parking lot near Kazura-bashi. (55 minutes from Ôboke station).

Hotels around Iya Valley

Hotels around Iya Valley

Other Tourist Attractions in Tokushima Prefecture

Return to Tokushima Prefecture Return to Shikoku Region

Other prefectures in Shikoku Region