10 Secrets You'll Want to Experience in Oboke and Iya



10 Secrets You'll Want to Experience in Oboke and Iya


Deep within the Shikoku mountains, there is Oboke and Iya. This place is a secluded village surrounded by deep mountains and valleys, and Iya is, alongside Shirakawa-go and Shiiba Village, one of Japan's 3 most mysterious lands. Here we will introduce to you the strange charm of the mystical lands of Oboke and Iya, where you can feel for yourself the dynamic natural scenery of the forest and valley, and see the old fashioned ways of life of Japan's mountain villages. 

Going down the Yoshinogawa River, which looks almost like art 

Oboke Ravine Pleasure Boat

The gorges Oboke and Koboke are a landscape created by the great wilderness over the course of approximately 200 million to 100 million years. The rugged, dynamic rock surface, and clear, emerald green river water express themselves differently in every season. Enjoy the beauty of the gorges on sightseeing boats, and through kayaking.


Oboke Ravine Pleasure Boat | 大歩危峡観光遊覧船
Address: 1520 Nishiu, Yamashiro-cho, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima Prefecture


Legendary Flowers   Mountain Where the Lady Slippers Bloom Profusely 

Kazurabashi Sansoen

What image do you have when you think of Japan's spring flowers?
Many people probably think of cherry blossoms and wisteria. Here in Iya, however, there bloom the elusive lady slippers, known in Japan as "kumagaiso." These lady slippers are a precious plant, thought to be in danger of extinction in Japan. In the Kazurabashi Sansoen ('Kazurabashi Mountain Flower Orchard'), these precious lady slippers grow in droves. They are the most beautiful beginning late April. 


Kazurabashi Sansoen | かずら橋山草園
Address: Nishi-Iyayamason, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima Prefecture
Operating Period: May 1st ~ end of May


Cliff Where a Peeing Boy Stands 

Iya Valley the Statue of the Peeing Boy

At the top of a cliff 220m high is a statue of a boy peeing. A long time ago, this place was utilized by children and travelers as a test of courage, and beyond the edge of the cliff, the valley is so deep as to take your breath away. This is a place that can be enjoyed not only in the spring and summer, when the leaves are green and tender, but also in the fall, when the changing leaves provide a beautiful view. 


Iya Valley the Statue of the Peeing Boy | 祖谷渓の小便小僧像
Address: Matsuo, Ikeda-cho, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima Prefecture


Swaying Suspension Bridge Woven from Plants 

Iya-no-Kazura Bashi

The "Iya-no-Kazura Bashi," woven from the rare plant shirakuchikazura (a type of vine plant), is a suspension bridge that sways and makes noise every time you take a step. From the cracks between the slats at your feet, you can see the river 14m underneath you--a truly thrilling experience. At night it is lit up, so you can also see a different, more magical side of the bridge. Every 3 years, this bridge is re-built at the hands of craftsmen.  


Iya-no-Kazura Bashi | 祖谷のかずら橋
Address: 162-2 Zentoku, Nishi-Iyayamason, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima Prefecture


Hot Spring Accessible by Designated Cable Car 

Secluded Area of Shikoku   Oboke-Iya Hot Springs

The Oboke-Iya Hot Springs boasts outdoor hot springs that you can go to on an exclusive cable car, where you can enjoy the true charm of this secluded area and the changing leaves of autumn. There are various outdoor hot springs, like one with a magnificent view of the Iyagawa River running all the way down to the valley floor 180m below, and an outdoor hot spring "in the heaven," high enough for a glorious view of the whole area. 


Secluded Area of Shikoku   Oboke-Iya Hot Springs / Oboke-Iya Ittemirukai
四国の秘境 大歩危・祖谷温泉郷/大歩危・祖谷いってみる会



Savor Local Flood that is Cooked on Stone


Hirarayaki(ひらら焼), a dish unique to this area, is made using a heated stone as a frying pan. "Hirara" means "flat stone." It is a dish often used to welcome guests, made by first making a dote (a circle with a pool in the middle) with miso and simmering in it various ingredients like the freshwater fish amego ('red spotted masu trout') , tofu, and Iya potatoes. The smell of cooked miso stirs the appetite. 


Savor Fresh-from-the-Oven Pizza at a Cafe in a Closed-down School 

Haretoke Design Hut_1
Haretoke Design Hut_2
Haretoke Design Hut_3

Haretoke Design Sha is a cafe & guest house housed in a closed-down school at the entrance of Iya. You can enjoy their specialty French cakes and pizzas out on the wooden deck in the courtyard. Coffee is roasted carefully by hand roaster 300 g, roasting using a mesh 200 g each.The hostel is a dormitory, with movable beds that your group can arrange however you want before you sleep. 


Haretoke Design Sha | ハレとケデザイン舎
Address: Former Deai elementary school, 15 Ori Onishi, Ikeda-cho, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima Prefecture


A Leisurely, Therapeutic Ride Through the Wilderness
Longest Sightseeing Monorail in the World


Enjoy a leisurely, therapeutic ride through the wilderness on this monorail, the longest for sightseeing in the world, spanning 4.6km, with 590m of variation in altitude, a 40 degree slope at its steepest point, and 1380m elevation at its highest point. The monorail moves through the forest for 65 minutes. You must reserve in advance to be able to ride.


Okuiya-Kanko-Shuyu-Monorail | 奥祖谷観光周遊モノレール
Address: 28 Sugeoi, Higashi-Iya, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima Prefecture


"Village of Yokai," where Yokai Live?! 

Konaki jiji(児啼​爺) 

There are over 150 pieces of yokai (妖怪 / Japanese folk monster) lore remaining in Yamashiro-cho, Miyoshi-shi. Konaki jiji(児啼​爺)  ー Yokai that looks like an old man but cries with the voice of a baby, famous in Japan, is too a yokai borne of Yamashiro-cho Oboke, and a stone statue of it resides along the Fujikawatani Valley. There are many wooden yokai monuments placed all around this village of yokai. 


A "Fusuma Karakuri" Stage, Controlled Skillfully in the Background 

Fusuma karakuri

Fusuma karakuri (襖からくり) ー 'sliding door tricks' is a type of performance art that has long been performed in Nishi-Iyayamason, Miyoshi-shi at events like the autumn festival. The skill required for this kind of show, in which hand-drawn sliding door paintings are moved with strings in the background of traditional Japanese puppet shows, traditional theater, and the like, is marvelous. The performances that unfold in the forest at night, by the light of a bonfire, are truly magical. 

An area deep in the mountains of Shikoku, Oboke/Iya is home to strange legends and mystical, beautiful landscapes. Every season, there is a new way to experience and enjoy this area. Come visit to experience the secluded, great wilderness and culture. 


Liked this story? Like DiGJAPAN!
on Facebook for daily updates!