Oboke and Koboke Gorges
Not long after leaving Sanukiya, the Udon restaurant, we arrived at the northern-most part of Koboke Gorge. Oboke Gorge lies further downstream. They are both steep gorges, sitting at the west-end of Iya Valley. They are a result of the rapid currents of Yoshino River that run through the mountain range. Oboke and Koboke literally means ‘big dangerous step’, and ‘small(er) dangerous step’. Perhaps this is a warning to those who are more reckless in their approach to this beautiful natural formation.
I’m going to share with you the locations of our pit-stops where we took our photos from. They are:
1: [Google map link] Large parking lot TOPS アウトドアステーション
2: [Google map link] Park at the Convenience store, walk about 50m northwards.
3 : [Google map link] Park at 食事処 祖谷橋, walk over to Iyaguchi Bridge 祖谷口橋.
4: [Google map link] We parked at the side, about 50m north from an Ayu restaurant 鮎戸瀬荘.
5: [Google map link] This is a proper pit stop, with Soba restaurant, Mont-bell equipment store, gift-shops, 7-11, Ramen shop and a few others. There is a ¥100 fee-for-entry area, which includes access to a clean bathroom, and close-up view of the Gorge.
And I'm going to share with you a secret spot of mine:
This is Unkai Terrace 雲海展望台, which gives you a bird's eye view of Oboke 大歩危, and the valley. It was a surreal moment. So tranquil. The layering of the different blue hue imparted by the mountains. It was just us.
The best time to visit this spot is at sunrise (according to a kind man who stopped momentarily to share with us). Location [Google map link]. The drive up is steep, and the road is narrow - though deeper into Iya Valley, the roads will be like that for most of the way. Good luck.