Recommended Sightseeing Spots in Nishi Awa, Shikoku
The communities of the Iya Valley - also known as Japan's Eden - are one of the three most secluded areas of the country, as they are surrounded by steep mountains and valleys. Here, you can enjoy mixing with the locals and witnessing the mountain villages and ways of life that have become so rare in modern Japan.
This 45 m-long suspension bridge (one of Japan's Three Strange Bridges) is made out of Hardy Kiwi vines, which grow wild in the secluded mountains of Iya. The way the bridge sways when you cross it makes for a thrilling walk! After sunset the bridge is illuminated, giving it a magical air.
The narrow valleys of Oboke and Koboke were formed by the raging rapids of the Yoshino River carving into the crystalline schist rock. The word "boke", found in both valleys' names, mean "dangerous to walk along", with "O" meaning big and "Ko" meaning small, suggesting that the valleys' tough terrain is dangerous whether taken in large or small steps. One highlight of Oboke is seeing the huge and strangely-shaped rocks that line the precipitous cliffs along its 5 km length. Whitewater rafting down these powerful rapids is highly recommended!
Chiiori is the name of a 300-year-old thatch-roofed farmhouse that was purchased in 1973 by Alex Kerr, a researcher in oriental culture. The interior of the house, with its era fireplace, high ceilings and black luster floors, carries a feeling of history. You can also enjoy the sight of the Nishi Awa landscape from the house's veranda.
This neighborhood of merchants' houses prospered during the middle Edo Era. "Udatsu" is the name given to the firewalls made on the boundaries between neighboring houses, and was a symbol of prosperity. The remaining townscape with its Udatsu speaks of the affluence of the day, and allows modern visitors to enjoy the sight of historical buildings that overflow with emotion.