Explore Japan on foot
Iya Valley is one of Japan’s most hidden valleys and is definitely off the beaten path. Until recently one would have to hike for days to reach the valley. This made it an ideal hide-out for criminals and samurai who lost favor with their masters. The remoteness has its advantages and disadvantages: its beauty is unspoiled, but the area has a poor transportation system.
The valley was cut by the Yoshinogawa River which offers some of Japan's best rafting, and there’s a rafting company with English speaking guides.
Iya Valley is divided into two areas. West Iya is known locally as “Nishi Iya” and East Iya is known as “Higashi Iya” or “Okku Iya.” There is also an area called Miyoshi.
Iya Valley’s main attractions are its natural beauty and the vine bridges that span some of the gorges. The most popular one is located in West Iya and is close to the main village. The bridge is open from sun up to sun down and costs 500 yen to cross. This might seem like a lot but the maintenance of these bridges is not cheap. This bridge has been reinforced with steel cables so there is no danger of breaking.
East Iya has the more atmospheric Oku-Iya Vine Bridges. One bridge is called the husband bridge and other one is the wife bridge. They are reminiscent of what you might see in an Indian Jones movie, but are not easy to get to.