Iya Onsen - Shikoku's Hidden Gem

Iya Onsen - Shikoku's Hidden Gem

Have you ever heard of the Iya Valley? This beautiful secluded valley, located in the heart of the island of Shikoku, is famous for its stunning nature, deep rocky gorges, ancient vine bridges, and many hot springs. This is truly a hidden gem and a perfect place if you want to relax surrounded by nature. I wholeheartedly recommend that you visit this place, and if you do, make sure to book a stay at the amazing Iya Onsen located there.

This great onsen has a location that is great both for enjoying the spectacular views of surrounding nature and for exploring many nearby attractions. Iya Onsen can be easily accessed from the Oboke station by a shuttle bus offered for free to the customers of the onsen who arrive by train there.

As you might have guessed it by its name, one of Iya Onsen's best features are its hot baths. The open-air hot baths are located at the bottom of the valley and accessed by a cable car from the hotel. The ride itself is amazing, but the best part is the hot baths themselves. There are three hot baths in total, two of which are swapped every other day between male and female, and a third private compartment which you need to reserve in advance. The hot spring water is free-flowing straight from the source, which is shown by the white mineral deposits floating in the bath making the water cloudy. This onsen is probably one of the most impressive ones I ever saw. That is mostly thanks to its great location at the bottom of a steep valley right next to the river. Also, there is an indoor hot bath at the hotel which you can use if you feel like it.

The rooms at the Iya Onsen are of high quality and great design that you would expect from a hotel like this one. Amenities include LDC TVs, high-quality BOSE audio players, massage chairs, free Wi-Fi, refrigerator, hairdryer, telephone, safe, toiletries, and other essential stuff. There are even yukata robes included. Most of the rooms have breathtaking views of the mountains and the valley, and some include open-air baths and even a foot bath. I really recommend that you get one of these premium rooms if you can. 

Breakfast and dinner can also be served here for you, and both are of high quality. Breakfast can be traditional Japanese, Western-style, or you can go to a breakfast buffet. For dinner I recommend you try one of the delicious traditional Kaiseki courses, to get the taste of traditional prepared local ingredients. Iya's local cuisine is grown and prepared by people who carry on their local heritage, including Genpei Imo potatoes which can only be found locally, thick and meaty shiitake mushrooms, wild mountain vegetables, buckwheat (soba) noodles, and local Iya tofu.

There are many amazing places you can visit in the Iya Valley that are only a short trip away from the Iya Onsen. First is the statue of the Peeing Boy which takes about 5 minutes on foot. Also, the famous vine bridge over the river is only 15 minutes by car, and the Hi-no-Ji “ひ” Valley is even closer. A few more famous locations you can visit in less than an hour by car are the Oboke Gorge, Ochiai Village, and the Double Vine Bridges in Oku-Iya. The Oboke Gorge was made over many years by the movement of the water wearing down the sandstone. See rock formations made of crystalline schist, a nationally designated natural monument, up close from the pleasure boat. Two vine bridges are located upstream on the Iya River. The two bridges made of vines are called the Men's Bridge and the Women's Bridge. The surrounding area is a panorama of natural beauty in every season. If you enjoy climbing mountains, Mt.Tsurugi is located about an hour and half from the hotel. At a height of 1995 meters, the peak offers an unparalleled view of a mystical sea of clouds, with the Kii Peninsula, Seto Inland Sea, and Ashizuri Peninsula in the distance. It has been known as a holy place for mountain worship since ancient times.
If you like what you see here, make sure to check out the website of Iya Onsen to learn more and book a stay here!

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