Called one of the three hidden region of Japan, the Iya-kei Valley is certainly one of the most scenic spot in Western Japan, along with the gorges in Takachiho and Mount Aso in Kyushu.
The main attractions are the Kazura Vine Suspension Bridge (祖谷のかずら橋, Iya no Kazurabashi), the Iya Hot springs, and the Gorges of Ōboke. Kazura Bridge was until recently the only remaining vine suspension bridge in the region. It has now been reinforced by steel cables to prevent accidents, and a 500 ¥ admission is required to cross the bridge. Don't miss the 30-min boat tours of the Ōboke Gorges.
How to get there
The area is not very easy to reach by public transport. Ideally, a complete tour should include both the Oboke Gorges, the Kazura-bridge and the Iya Valley between the Bridge and Awa-Ikeda Station. Shikoku Kotsu has buses from Awa-Ikeda Station leave 7 times a day (between 7:15am and 4:15pm) to Kazura-bashi Bridge, either via Iya Onsen, or Oboke, and take 2h10min.
You can also reach Oboke by train, 1h20min from Takamatsu by Limited Express (￥3,410). From there, there are 4 buses a day to Kazura-bashi Bridge (25min).
Shikoku Kotsu also has tours (定期観光, shitei kankō) of the whole region every day from March to November (￥5,200 including various admission fees, lunch and transportation). Tours start from 11am from Awa-Ikeda Station, where they return at 4:20pm.