Discovering the Wonders of Iya Valley
Deep in the mountains of Shikoku lies Iya, which is home to a few small settlements. The steep, narrow and misty valley is the stuff of lore. In the 12th century it was a haven for fugitive Heike clan warriors who easily slipped away in the rugged terrain. Over the years, the community has seen its population shrink and age. But a decade ago, Iya became a popular destination for overseas visitors. We visit Iya to find out why and search for hints for regional revitalization.

Scarecrow Village

The life-like kakashi scarecrows in Nagoro are what sparked the boom in overseas tourism. Over 350 of the figures, which are often mistaken for villagers, are found across the area.

Ochiai Village

Ochiai features traditional architecture with restored thatched roofs. It was registered as a conservation area for historically important buildings in 2005. Some of the 300-year-old residences have been converted into elegant inns. Locals offer tours and workshops.

Okuiya District Guest House

This is the place for people who want to immerse themselves in an old, rural way of life. Try your hand at wood-chopping and steaming rice in a kamado fueled by kindling fire.


Fly from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Tokushima Awaodori Airport. It takes about 2 hours by bus and train to reach JR Oboke Station. From the station, the settlements are accessible via bus or taxi.