Trip to Iya Valley, pt. 1

Last weekend, Sona, Roland and yours truly decided to go do some exploring of that beautiful country we all live in. After some deliberations, we set our sights on Tokushima-ken in Shikoku, more specifically: Iya valley.

Awa Ikeda station In addition to being a reasonably short and affordable bus ride away (2h30 from Kyoto to Tokushima city, another 2h to Iya proper), the region has a reputation as one of the last somewhat-preserved rural areas of Japan: lush nature aplenty, stunning mountain scenery and slightly less of the concrete horrors that litter every last corner of the Japanese countryside. The latter in particular was a big selling point, albeit taken with the healthy skepticism of someone who has seen his share of “scenic” Japanese countryside towns and “world-famous Unesco sites” consisting of a couple painfully preserved traditional houses surrounded by entire towns of nondescript gray buildings in all their aging 70s glory, along beaches littered with endless lines of tetrapods

Miyoshi-shi As it turns out, Iya valley might indeed offer some of the last shreds of unblemished rural landscape found in Japan (outside of 2-day hikes to remote mountainous parts of Gunma-ken or the like). In addition to largely unscathed landscapes, the constant mist and low-hanging clouds locked in by mountains on all sides contributed to give the whole area a distinct Lost Valley feel.

Don’t get me wrong: local government is clearly hard at work finding new and inventive ways to lay down concrete anywhere they can and utilitarian, cheap & ugly is the only zoning code local construction abides by. But on the scale of concrete addiction: if your average Japanese town is the worn-out crack whore who will blow you behind the city hall for a new four-lane expressway construction project, Iya would be the fresh-faced socialite who fashionably dabbles in cocaine but still has most of her youthful looks still on ((In that overwrought simile, Tokyo is probably Keith Richards: pumped up full of chemicals, and oddly endearing for the sheer excess of it all.)).

In short: it was awesome and a much needed break from suburban city life.

It has been a while since I posted any real travel notes (instead of just plopping a bunch of pictures), so I thought I could make an effort this time. Behold:

The Wondrous Adventures of Sona, Roland & Dave in Beautiful Iya Valley!

It all started on Friday night, when our bus dropped us at Tokushima station.

to be continued