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Goin’ Japanesque!

Iya Valley: One of Top 3 Untrodden Areas of Japan with Many Legends

Perhaps some of you may recall Kazura-bashi Bridge, one of the three most unique bridges of Japan. In fact in the Iya region of Tokushima prefecture where the Kazura-bashi Bridge is located is also known as one of the top 3 untrodden areas in Japan that exists within nature. There is an independent culture that remains preserved there because it is secluded and not easily accessible from regions that have been developed. This article will introduce the highlights of this area of Iya, which is off the beaten path.

 

About Iya in Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture

徳島県三好市祖谷

Along with Shirakawa-go of Gifu Prefecture and Shiibason of Miyagi Prefecture, which have been designated as world heritage sites, Iya is another area that has been recognized as one of the top 3 untrodden areas. The entire region of Iya is said to have been a hidden refuge for defeated soldiers of the Taira clan and there are many tales associated with it passed down in the region. This area is known to be one of representative locales for untrodden regions of Japan and a particularly famous spot in this region is the previously introduced Kazura-bashi Bridge. Information: Map

Related: 3 Most Unique Bridges Recommended As Sightseeing Destinations

 

Highlights

#1 Kazura-bashi Bridge

かずら橋

iya-kazura-bridge2
In fact there exists another Kazura-bashi called the Oku Iya Niju Kazura-bashi. Another name for it is Fufu (husband and wife) bridge. There are two bridges side by side; the otoko (male) bridge and the onna (female) bridge.

#2 Ochiai Shuraku Settlement

落合集落

tokushima-iya1
Why is there a village this deep in the mountains? Indeed this area was most likely a settlement where defeated soldiers from the Taira clan sought refuge. Within the settlement is a steep slope of 390 m drop and there are old housing, stone walls and fields that spread throughout.

#3 Statue of A Peeing Boy

小便小僧

tokushima-iya2
Right on the sheer precipice of the Iya Valley (200 meters in height), there is the statue of the peeing boy, which is an iconic symbol of the Iya Valley. Many local residents and travelers have stood here, putting their courage to the test at these dizzying heights. It is one place where you can see a panoramic scenery spread before your eyes.

#4 Some Local Eats

iya-soba
Iya Soba (Buckwheat Noodles), https://www.flickr.com

The Iya Soba noodles are made using the pure waters of the untrodden Iya and locally grown buckwheat flour. The distinct characteristic is the thick and shorter noodles compared to the standard soba. It is a recommended local dish.

Related: Wanko Soba: Food Culture of Iwate with a Dash of Entertainment

iya-dekomawashi
Dekomawashi and Grilled Freshwater Fish Seasoned with Salt

Dekomawashi is a type of dengaku using ingredients such as potato, tofu and konnyaku (jelly-like food made from the starch of konjac root) on a bamboo skewer and grilled in charcoal fire grill basted with a miso based sauce. It’s nice to sit around the hearth and enjoy the simple flavors.

#5 Oku Iya Sightseeing (Kanko Shuyu) Monorail

奥祖谷観光周遊モノレール

iya-monorail
4.6 km in length, 590 meters drop, maximum incline of 40 degrees, maximum height of 1380 meters. All these figures are certified as best record in the world for the category of monorails for sightseeing purposes. There is no other place where you can ride in the Kabutomushi (Beetle) Car, and enjoy a leisurely monorail ride (about 65 minutes) through the forest.

#6 Shin Iya Onsen, Hotel Kazura Bashi

新祖谷温泉 ホテルかずら橋

shin-iya-onsen-kazurabashi1
Right by Kazura-bashi Bridge is an inn with a hot springs bath (onsen). Since you have come out all the way to these untrodden regions, we would definitely recommend you visit this inn. Take the cable car to even further heights. You are headed to….

shin-iya-onsen-kazurabashi2
http://onsenbaka.jp/

An outdoor bath in the skies! No other words to describe it then “the absolute best”!

Related: Other Onsen Articles

 

If you are an experienced traveler who has already seen the sights of the metropolis of Tokyo, we would suggest you venture out into the country side. The Iya area of Tokushima which we introduced today is one of the representative locales among regional tourist destinations.

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