Shikoku is not a popular tourist destination when compare with other places in Japan. For tourists who are tired of the hustle and bustle city life; Shikoku is like a fresh breeze. It can help people to cleansing their mind. Travel attractions in Shikoku is scattered and the train shifts are sparse. Most people choice to travel Shikoku with car. But for people who have no driving license, join the local tour is a good choice.
Oboke and Koboke are located in Tokushima prefecture; you can go there by taking JR to Awa Ikeda Station, then exchange train to the Oboke station. As Oboke has low traffic, there is no entrance/exit gate, no station staff; only the Oboke station monster master will welcome you.
The main transportations in Oboke are bus and taxi. The taxi fee is very expensive and bus shifts are sparse. Therefore, we chose to join the local Nishi Iya bus tour.
The half-day tour covers most of the travel attractions of Nishi Iya. On bus there are Japanese and English leaflets and broadcast. There is sufficient of time for you to touring around and take photos on each stop. The bus tour also includes the famous Nishi iya product, soba, for lunch. In addition, it also includes the ticket of the Oboke boating. All these cost only 7,500 Yen. Personally, I think it’s really value for money. Following is the tour route map.
Nishi Iya Bus Tour available from 3/19 to 11/30 each year. May, August, October and November operates daily, other days only operate on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays.
The bus tour departs at 10:40 in the morning, just to be connected to the JR from Takamatsu. The meeting point is right outside the Awa Ikeda Station.
Even thought we joined the weekday tour, it’s also full. Most of them were local elderly people. If you want to join the bus tour, please make your reservation in advance. We took the special featuring bus tour, the seat was a bit narrow but it was nice and special tour.
The first stop was the famous “Manikin Pee boy”, the statue of the peeing boy stands at the hillside, facing a 200m deep valley to pee. Just wondering is it easier to pee by standing on the cliff and enjoy the wind from the mountain?
After leaving the “Manikin Pee Boy”, we stopped for lunch. We lunched at a famous hot spring hotel, Iya Beauty, to taste the Iya famous food Soba. Once entering the restaurant, we saw a table full of side dishes. While we were enjoying the appetizers, the main courses and sob were presenting to us.
The most unexpected was the grilled river fish. They were grilled with charcoal on the spot; no exceed seasoning, only light salty and fish freshness. That made you want to try once more time.
After a great meal don’t just think of leaving immediately. You have to reserve time to the outlook platform to enjoy the Iya sceneries.
The main attraction after lunch was Kazurabashi /Vine Bridge (祖谷かずら橋).
Iya Vine Bridge was built for the convenience of the residents on the sides of the Iya valley. The reason to use vine to make the bridge is because it can be cut off when being defeated so to prevent enemies to chasing after them (The tour fee already included the admission fee).
The walking part of the vine bridge is made from wood. The gap between each wooden strip is pretty big. It is bigger than a size 37 shoes. When crossing the bridge, you have to be careful of your personal belongings and your shoes. They would fall into the river by careless. The bridge started swinging once people stepped over it. The more people on the bridge, the more severe of the swinging; you need to hold the edge of the bright tight, while minding your steps. Of course, also need to take the memorial photo. The difficult level is 9.9 points. The moment you reached another side of the bridge, you will so proud of yourself.
The sceneries on the sides of the vine bridge are stunning. As it was too fearful to crossing the bridge, we didn’t have time and mood to enjoy such beautiful sceneries.
The second highlight of the tour was the Oboke-Kyo Sightseeing Boat (大歩危舟下り（観光遊船). Admission fee is included. It is definitely value for money.
Taking sightseeing boat is the best way to view the sceneries of both Oboke and Koboke. On the boat the tourist guide will introduce the sceneries along the rivers with Japanese. If you don’t know Japanese, you simply enjoy the breeze and look at the beautiful views. Not bad at all.
If have chance, say Hi to the people on the boat at opposite direction.
River is very clear that you can see the riverbank.
In addition to above tourist attractions, we also visited other two attractions – Heike Yashiki Museum and Monster Museum. Heike Yashiki is a small exhibition area, which preserves the original appearance of the old buildings and the old stove are also nicely retained.
You need to pay the admission fee of the monster museum on your own. Most tourists just took pictures outside and took a look in the shop. That’s.
The shop sells different kinds of Oboke souvenirs from drinks to vegetables to clothing, almost everything.
We discovered a concentrated grapefruit juice, which we called it “ God Juice” (Laughs). It is help to cleanse the stool effectively.
Shikoku Kotsu, co. Ltd Awa Ikeda Bus Terminal Information Center
Opening Hour: 9:00 ~ 18:00pm
- If cancellation is made on the day, each person will be charged 2,500 Yen
- If the tour was cancelled during to the weather problem or any attraction was cancelled, tour fee will not be refunded.
- Minimum 4 person