Day 13: Iya Valley

The Queen stage of our cycle trip, and it was a corker of a day weather wise, with a forecast of around 30c.

We headed off soon after 8 am to try and get the first climb of 5 km done in cooler air.

The Yoshino River, Oboke Gorge looked beautiful.

Below is our graph showing climbs. Mirror image as we did an out and back route. The first climb took us from 180m asl (above sea level to around 580 m asl.

Nearing the top provided nice views of the green hills and valleys.

The last one km of the climb was kamikaze tunnel. We kept climbing inside that tunnel at around 3% for 985m in length, no verge, no area to ride aside from the one lane.

The noise inside long tunnels is scary at times. Motorbikes actually make the loudest noise, followed by trucks. When they come up behind you, you just hope they’ve noted you.

On the ground there were raised reflectors, which were a bit dodgy for bikes as they were quite high and not angled well. There is occasional litter to avoid such as walking boots and hammers!

It is ALWAYS a relief to leave the kamikaze tunnels. Today we did over 7 km in tunnels. This is not included in total km data as the bike computers rely on satellites, and in a tunnel, they cannot communicate.

Safely out the other side, we started out gradual incline along the valleys of the Iya Valley. Lovely vistas.

Water flowed out here, and there were two ladles. We presumed this was safe drinking water pumped up from the Iya River.

Structured waterfalls off the roadside were not infrequent.

Iya-no-Kazirabashi (Vine Bridge), is one of Japan’s Three Strange Bridges. The Kazirabashi suspension bridge is made of local vines and is a nationally designated important Cultural Property.

Legends say that the ancient Heike residents made such bridges in order to easily cut them away if pursued by invading warriors.

Rebuilt every three years and stretching 45 m long, 2 m wide and swaying 14 m above the river below, tourists love to walk across. There was a bus load about the walk across from the left when this photo was taken. It costs 550 yen to walk across.

Tablet nearby

Close by is the 50m high Biwa waterfall.

Back on route, we commenced an 11 km climb that would take us up over 900 m asl. The gradient was ok, but the heat was starting to melt us, and we had eaten our snacks. We were rationing our water, and no shops, no vending machines,

We bonked with maybe 3 km to go and battled up the final section. The nice views helped.

Our target was Kakashi-no-Sato, otherwise know as the Scarecrow village. In the Iya valleys final village of Nagato dwells one of Japan’s curious oddities.

There are 23 residents living in the village, but over 300 life sized ‘dolls’ that work the fields, gather along the road, attend school, host weddings and gatherings.

It is a weird feeling as you feel you are being watched by ‘the eyes’.

After wandering around, we sat in the shade, and Tony changed my very stuffed brake pads. A tourist bus arrived and whilst some wandered around looking at the scarecrows, another bunch stood and watched Tony 🤣

We did enjoy our descent! I was glad I had new brake pads too!

Finally we found a very small local shop 2 km from the bottom. I perused and grabbed what I could and we sat in the shade eating and drinking and getting some energy back.

This dog was on a lead, and seemed to live at the shop. I commented on how timid the dog was. It went ape and did not stop barking until we left…call me anything, but don’t call me timid! 🤣

We had one tough climb left. 2.4 km at 9.7%…. Is tough! That’s steep. We knew it would be nasty as we descended from kamikaze tunnel. I was thankful we’d gotten some food into us as that helped get us up the blighter.

Then it was back through kamikaze tunnel, but far more enjoyable as it descended 3% for the one km.

Out the other side, and the views towards the Oboke area.

I decreased the route on the map so,you could see Tokushima, our destination tomorrow, and last full day ride this trip.

Japan continues to impress us with our experiences on Shikoku. People are so friendly and helpful. Even the guys with their red and white flags at roadworks smile, wave, bow and one today even clapped!

Climbing over 2000 metres today is huge for me, plus we rode 91 km. It is many years since I have climbed that amount, and to do that only 9 months post open heart surgery astounds me.

Thankyou for reading and the comments here and on FB fe the blog continue to motivate us.

Smile on 😊❣️

10 thoughts on “Day 13: Iya Valley

    1. CR

      Stunning scenery and bridges. It’s great coming across the weird and wonderful, such as scarecrow village. The weather looks incredible and highlights the countryside. Looks like a really good ride today. Enjoy tomorrow and keep your change for the vending machines! 👊

      Liked by 1 person

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