A green valley between majestic hills catching the clouds. The landscape might have been imaginary, out of mysterious dream, if it wasn’t real, in the heart of Shikoku! The Iya valley offers another sight of Japan, in the West of Tokushima prefecture and far away from the big cities. The Iya river is best explored by car or bike and the trip would not be complete without a break in the unique outdoor bath of the Hotel Iya Onsen.
The Iya valley, just like the neighboring Oboke valley, is filled not only with evanescent clouds but also with mysteries and legends.
The Iya Kazubarashi is 45 meters long and 14 meters above the river. The structure is nowadays strengthened with steel cables along vine ones.
Another attraction of the valley is the pissing boy statue (a Japanese cousin of Belgian Manneken pis!). It was erected as a tribute to generations of local boys showing their bravery in the same posture.
A night in the valley is also a pleasant way to discover it. And Iya is home of a special hotel with a unique feature. Hotel Iya Onsen (from 16470 yen per person, dinner and breakfast included) has its own cable-car, for the guest to reach the outdoor bath at river level (almost 200 m down).
The accommodation includes two high-range Japanese meals, where local ayu fish meet spicy miso fondue and awa-odori chicken chanko.
The famous outdoor bath is a pretty cold one, according to Japan standard, with a 39°C water only. It is the nature temperature of the hot spring. The bath and cable-car are open to non-guest during day time for 1700 yen per person.
How to get there?
Iya valley is not so easy to reach and explore. The main stations are Oboke et Awa-Ikeda but they are not really close to the famous sights. The West part of the area is deserved by local bus, but the Eastern is not. The best option is then to rent a car, either in the two stations or further. The main sights are two hours East of Tokushima.