Iya Onsen (Review)
The Secluded Luxurious Ryokan and Baths in the Valley
Iya Onsen is a Japanese hot spring hotel, located on a side of Iya Valley in the mountains of Shikoku, and attached to Miyoshi City in Tokushima prefecture. This luxurious hotel earned its reputation thanks to open-air onsen arranged amidst nature on the bank of Iya river.
Cloistered from the rest of Japan, Iya Valley displays natural gems throughout the year, offering each season’s characteristic colors. To live this timeless experience, it is possible to stay overnight in Iya Onsen ♨️ hotel 🏨’s comfortable and relatively high-end setting that will also delight hot springs amateurs.
The hotel’s location is particularly interesting: hanging above a steep slope, Iya Onsen oversees the surrounding valley and offers its guests a breathtaking panorama encompassing the forest and down to the Iya River flowing below. One can’t get bored from this marvelous landscape unfolding from the reception room’s windows. The hotel was deliberately built in a lush and lively nature, remote from any neighbor or city, and it is not unusual to hear wildlife from the rooms. The timeless situation far from any urban activity allows Iya Onsen to provide a true disconnection from the everyday life, even as a simple tourist.
Be careful not to stumble when going to the rotenburo. The picturesque and relaxing outdoor hot baths are indeed 170 meters below on the banks of the river, and reachable by a cable car 🚙 going down a 42°slope. They are the main attraction of the place, as well as its best advertisement. Women’s baths, men’s baths and private natural basins are the three thermal installations that are worth the detour at any time of the day. The alkaline pH water is rich in sulfur and helps relax and gently replenish the skin. Indoor non-mixed baths and rooms with private onsen on a balcony with a view on the green mountains are also available at the hotel.
Japanese cuisine is also part of the experience with a kaiseki dinner and a traditional breakfast, included in all types of overnight stay. The courses are prepared with fresh and local products and vary according to the seasons. The specialties are grilled fish and Awa beef. Note that meals are not served in the room, contrary to the custom of most traditional Japanese inns. One must therefore go to the dining room and share this moment with other customers.
The rooms are comfortable and well-fitted. Relaxation devices such as massage chairs and sometimes hammocks are placed in the rooms. On a tatami floor, the bedding is Japanese (futon) or of western style, to choose according to one’s taste.
Even though they don’t really speak English, the staff is very caring and among other things will arrange all transportation matters. For example, a free shuttle is available once a day from the lobby to go back and forth to the nearest JR stations, Oboke and Awa Ikeda.
Ideally located at the western entrance of Iya Valley, the hotel is within walking distance to the famous Manikin, and about 20 minutes from Iya-Kazurabashi bridge by the road.