2 Best Sights in Iya Valley and Oboke-Koboke Gorges, Shikoku

Chiiori House

Higashi-Iya

Alex Kerr, an American artist and writer, stumbled across this dilapidated traditional farmhouse in the 1970s while traveling in Iya. He bought it and began the painstaking work of restoring its thatched roof and heavy wooden beams. Named Chiiori House, it is now the cornerstone of the activities of the Chiiori Trust, a nonprofit foundation working to preserve the region's traditional beauty while revitalizing its rural communities. You can visit the restored (thatch roof and all) Chiiori House for the day or spend the night. Reserve ahead to do either.

209 Tsurui, Miyoshi City, 778-0602, Japan
0883-88–5290
Sight Details
Rate Includes: ¥500 to visit, accommodation fee varies by number of guests, but is ¥19,250 per person for groups of 2 to 3.

Vine Bridges

Iya's most famous feature is its trio of kazura-bashi (vine bridges) spanning its gorges. The most popular—referred to by most signs, maps, and locals simply as "Kazura-bashi"—is 20 minutes by car from Oboke Station. A less-visited pair are closer to Mt. Tsurugi. The bridges date back 800 years, to the aftermath of the momentous Gempei War, when the defeated Heike clan fled to these valleys after losing to the rival Minamoto clan. If the refugees were attacked, they could cut the vines at a moment's notice. These days, thin steel wires reinforce the precarious planks, and fresh vines are restrung every three years, but it still feels death-defying to cross the boards over the rivers. To visit Kazura-bashi, follow signs to it from Route 32 or Route 45. If you're driving, park in the cheaper lots up the hill. The tall waterfall down the path is free, but you'll pay to cross the bridge.

Nishi-Iya Sanzon Village, Miyoshi City, 778-0102, Japan
0883-76--0877-Miyoshi City Tourism
Sight Details
Rate Includes: ¥550 to cross bridge