Western Iya (Nishi-Iya) is quite easy to reach, and although the Eastern Iya (Higashi-Iya or Oku-Iya) is a little further, it is still worth the detour.
There were initially 13 bridges throughout Iya Valley, but only 3 remain today. They are suspended from cedar trees by steel cables covered with vine. They used to be only made by mountain vines (kazurabashi) but have been reinforced due to increased tourist traffic.
The most famous and easy-to-access bridge is Iya-Kazurabashi. It is 45 meters long and is suspended 14 meters above the river. Crossing the bridge is not advisable for people with a fear of heights, as our pictures below will show. Moreover, Husband Bridge (Ottonohashi) and Wife Bridge (Tsumanohashi), located in Oku-Iya (Niju-Kazurabashi), are 44 and 22 meters long, respectively.
A little farther out, visitors will also find Wild Monkey Bridge, a suspended cart formerly used to transport supplies. This bridge offers a perfect crossing opportunity for couples!
Nearby in Oku-Iya and Nishi-Iya, rivers and waterfalls refresh visitors during the summer.
Ochiai is a part of Iya Valley and features traditional houses, fields and numerous historical paths. The remote village is built directly on the mountainside on 8 levels. It is possible to sleep there to enjoy a fantastic view in the morning. The atmosphere is quite exceptional.
Therefore, many travelers like to come in Ochiai to spend the night in one of these traditional houses. In winter, they also like to taste a delicious boar meat hot pot (botan nabe) to warm up after a day of excursions in the prefecture.
Manikin Peeing Boy Statue
Who does not know Brussels’ Manneken-Pis? Iya Valley also has its own. In terms of location and landscape, Iya’s is superior, as it is perched atop a 200-meter cliff above the river!
How to get to Iya Valley
By bus -- Local bus lines (2 to 8 per day depending on the weekday and the season):
- from Awa-Ikeda Station (70 minutes) and Oboke Station (20 minutes) to Kazurabashi
- far fewer bus frequency to Oku-Iya / Niju-Kazurabashi; alternatively, a rental car is recommended
- journey from ¥500 (~US$ 4.60) to ¥2,000 (~US$ 18.40) depending on the distance
Location unreachable with the JR Pass
Get there with a rental car
- Adults: ¥550 (~US$ 5.10)
- Children: ¥350 (~US$ 3.20)
Get your Japanese Yens free of charge
- open daily from sunrise to sunset (at least from 8am to 5pm)
- light-up from 7pm to 9:30pm
- open daily from 8am to 5pm (from 7:30am to 6pm during summer)
- annual closure from December to March
How long / when to visit
Allow one to two days
Best season in autumn
祖谷かずら橋 (Iya Kazurabashi)
奥祖谷二重かずら橋 (Oku-Iya Niju Kazurabashi)