The Iya Valley is one of the top destinations for every Japan traveler looking for both adventurous activities and beautiful sightseeing scenery. Visitors can enjoy this area in the summer season (especially August), when the landscape is covered in a fresh green color. The average temperature is between 25 and 34° C, perfect weather for anyone looking for a day in the sun. In this article you will get an in depth look into the exciting outdoor activities and best sightseeing spots in Iya Valley, followed by a transportation guide for the area.
Iya Valley – How to Get There
The easiest and cheapest way to navigate the Iya Valley is to rent a car (レンタカー). Since it is located deep in the heart of Shikoku Island, the Iya Valley does not have as complex a transportation system when compared with the bigger cities. Marugame, the closest neighboring city, operates several rent-a-car companies. But if this location is not part of your travel plan, please ask your local guesthouse or hotel to find the best rental car option.
If renting a car is not an option for you, there is one bus company which passes through the valley. Here is a timetable to get to know the hours of operation, fares and the bus stops (as of August 2017).
Iya Valley – Places to Visit
The Iya valley is known for its beautiful rivers and mountainsides. We can find two beautiful vine bridges crossing the river, such as the Kazurabashi Bridge. Take a five minutes walk to Kazurabashi Bridge from the bus stop. Just follow the main road until you see this sign and turn right and climb up the stairway.
After reaching the entrance of the stairway you will find yourself in front of a ticket-booth. The price for crossing this bridge is 550 yen. Here, you get to see a nice waterfall as well as a place to get closer to the riverside and dip your feet into the refreshing water.
There, you will find a boat cruising along the Oboke River which run every 10-20 minutes from the Oboke-Kyo Bus Station. For about 1,000 yen, you can enjoy a 30-minute pleasure boat ride that will show you clear waters and natural rocky structures, although tour may not be conducted in English.
Outdoor activies in Iya Valley
Iya Valley flows into one of the three big rivers in Japan, the Yoshino River. It is also known for its clear water and rapids. You can also enjoy the river by white water rafting, enjoying the pristine landscapes from a different point of view. As you will see, several rafting operations have set up shop along the river. The average price ranges from 9,000 yen to 10,000 yen per person for a one-day adventure package. During the five to six hours adventure, you will experience the rapids under the guidance of locals. The rafting routes often vary depending on the weather conditions. On the following map you will see two big companies offering this service.
Beside the big river and its smaller offshoots you will be seduced by the Iya Valley’s beautiful mountain scenery. You can try some other more mountainous activities, such as zip-lining and mountain climbing adventures. There are dozens of different hiking trails in the forests but most of them are written in Japanese only, so please make sure to note all the kanji (Japanese characters) of your desired destinations and trail names. For anyone interested in zip-lining, there is one company named Forest Adventure, where you can climb and swing through the forests of the Iya Valley.
All in all, this area has plenty of outdoor activities to offer for anyone who would like to know the natural aspects of Japan and enjoy activities in the fresh mountain air.