Iya / Shin-Iya Onsen: bathe in a canyon amid nature’s splendor
Iya Valley is in the mountainous center of Shikoku near the border between western Tokushima and Kochi prefectures. Cliffs from dozens meters up to several hundred meters high stretch for 20km. From the cliff’s edge the dazzling emerald green Iya-gawa River can be seen flowing far below, and is known as one of “Japan’s three major unexplored regions.” Amid this majestic landscape are the Iya and Shin-Iya hot springs.
To get to Iya Onsen, take the cable car about 170m down to the bottom of the valley where an open-air bath awaits, fed directly from the source, a rarity in Shikoku. The alkaline simple sulfur spring has the effect of removing blemishes and smoothing the skin. As you bathe, enjoy a panoramic view of the Iya Valley with the background music of wind whistling through the valley and the songs of birds.
On the opposite end, the view is equally spectacular from the top of the valley at Shin-Iya Onsen reached by cable car. The surrounding scenery of vivid green trees, autumn leaves, and pure white snow is reflected on the surface of the colorless clear hot spring water, transforming the spring’s beauty each season. The simple sulfur spring is said to be effective for joint pain and poor circulation. Immerse yourself in these healing waters gazing upon the seasonal scenery and the stars and the sea of clouds above.
There are many sightseeing spots near Iya and Shin-Iya Onsen.
On the rocks of the cliffs along the Iya-gawa River stands a Manneken Pis based on an anecdote that local children and travelers used to test their courage this way.
The Kazurabashi Bridge at Iya, a Nationally Designated Important Tangible Folk Cultural Property, is also worth a visit. The suspension bridge is made of sarunashi (hardy kiwi, a kind of Japanese oak) and is replaced every three years.
More than 300 scarecrows can be found throughout the Nagoro area of Higashi-Iya known as Scarecrow Village. The scarecrows are made to look as if they are farming or holding chat sessions, and they seem to reflect the original Japanese landscape.
For travelers seeking action, we also recommend boating and rafting.
Take a break in a hot spring amidst the great outdoors. A holiday here promises the ultimate in revitalization.
Tokyo Sta. -> 200 min by Tokaido Shinkansen -> Okayama Sta. -> 100 min by limited express Nampu -> Oboke Sta. → 35 min by Shikoku-Kotsu bus -> Iya Onsen
Miyoshi City Tourism Association
*The information herein is as of April 2021.