The spectacular Iya Valley is a special place. Being one of Japan's hidden valleys, its gorges and dense forests have been a refuge for many centuries for those who want to escape persecution, such as those of the Shaman in the 9th century, or lost wars such as the Heike clan.
Nowadays, its narrow roads in ravines and cliffs, which border the cold Iya river, which meanders through the Iya valley with its wonderful Onsen, are ideal for those who want to escape from the chaotic day-to-day life of the big cities. .
The famous Iya soba are the gastronomic highlight.
What to visit in the Iya Valley depends on whether you are going to Nishi-Iya (West) or Higashi-Iya (East).
Nishi-Iya is very beautiful, but because it is more accessible in terms of transportation, it is very touristy. There are 3 vine bridges that have survived the passage of time and generations of warriors and locals. One of them is located in Nishi-Iya: Kazura-bashi (vine bridge).
But if we want to escape the tourist hordes for a bit, we should make a little effort and go to Higashi-Iya. Also known as Oku-Iya, which means “deep Iya”, where we can also find two vine bridges, but much less touristy. If we continue to the end of the valley we are at the foot of Mount Tsurugi (Tsurugi san) which is the second highest mountain in Shikoku.
There is so much more to discover in this hidden valley of Japan.
Sanuki was one of the four prefectures of Shikoku. It is now called Kagawa. Kagawa is the smallest prefecture in Shikoku and also in all of Japan.
Awa was also one of the four provinces of Shikoku. Its current name is Tokushima.
The starting point of 1200 years of pilgrimage, Awa is home to 23 of Shikoku's 88 temples.
Tosa was also one of the four provinces of Shikoku. Its current name is Kochi.
It is the largest of the 4 prefectures of Shikoku. It runs from Cape Muroto-misaki to Ashizuri-misaki with the Pacific along the coast.
Iyo was also one of the four provinces of Shikoku. Its current name is Ehime.
Ehime occupies the western part of Shikoku and has its largest city, Matsuyama. It also has the most pilgrimage temples: 27 to be exact.