Be brave and cross one of Iya Valley's historic vine bridges. Just don't look down!
Rural Shikoku offers one of the few remaining wilderness areas of Japan, a region of staggering mountains and dramatic ravines. Before roads, the only way to traverse this area was via the 13 vine bridges of the Iya Valley. The exact origins of the bridges are unknown; some legends say they were built under orders from Kobo Daishi the honoured founder of Shingon Buddhism, while others believe the bridges served as an escape route for refugees of 12th century wars.
Today just 3 bridges remain and in the name of health and safety they are fortified by steel cables hidden by the vines. The largest bridge, Kazurabashi, stretches 45 metres across the Iya River. At 14 metres high the bridge is still pretty scary to cross with little gaps between the planks to the water below! At least one member of the InsideJapan team inched ever-so-slowly across, overtaken by spritely Japanese old ladies.
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Important notice: We are pleased to be able to offer so many amazing experiences in Japan. However, we are sorry that we can only include these as a part of a full Japan holiday package which includes your accommodation and transport alongside the experiences presented in this section of the web site.
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This superior two-week itinerary introduces the little-visited, rural island of Shikoku - with a range of in-depth cultural experiences included.
A world apart from the crowded pavements and neon-spangled skyscrapers of the big cities; Shikoku boasts stunning natural beauty, from hidden valleys and untouched rivers to mountains and jagged coastlines. Over two weeks, this itinerary will allow you to discover some of the secrets of Shikoku.