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Thursday, 7th May 2015

Relax in the tranquility of the remote Iya Valley

The Iya Valley classifies as one of the remotest areas of the Tokushima Prefecture in Japan. In this lost paradise rock formations seemingly mindlessly play tricks on your vision, as light and water put on a dazzling transient show which only ends when night falls, not when you move on. 

One of the valley’s highlights is the Oboke Gorge, which is situated in a unique angle to the Yoshino River, rendering the turquoise water surface almost opaque.

The Oboke Pleasure Cruise boat takes tourists into this deep gorge, into the hollows of the earth. IN the Iya Valley, the sea floor yields some of its deepest secrets, as ancient rocks are interspersed with jumping peaks amid forests which encapsule dreamy villages.
One of the other main attractions of this region is the Kazurabashi vine bridge, which counts as one of the very few remaining traditional vine bridges.

Legend has it that the oldest Iya vine bridges were constructed by the Heike clan, known for its fugitive status mostly. Apparently, the clan opted to stick around the valley as the area was pretty impenetrable, which meant that enemies of the clan did not pursue them in the wake of the 12th-century Battle of Dan-no-ura.

Today’s bridge is no  longer made of vines, which the Heike clan would simply slash if under threat, but rather of steel cables. The bridge sways all the same and crossing the thundering water is still rather an ordeal for even the most intrepid of adventurers. 

Just a stone’s throw from the Kazurabashi Bridge, the Ochiai village can be found, where a small community lives, which traces its roots to the Edo Period. Life in the small village, tucked away under Mount Kanpo, is bustling with activity and you could argue that this is probably one of the more authentic experiences you will get in Japan whilst venturing off the beaten track.