If you want to get away from it all, this is it. Not far, but certainly out of the way. This trip is to Shikoku. Take the Shinkansen to Okayama and change to the train going to Awa-Ikeda, described elsewhere. At Awa-Ikeda station take a bus to Iya Onsen. The bus stop is across the street right next to a big map. (¥ 1000). You will be on the bus for about an hour. It will stop at Iya Onsen which consists of a hotel (expensive) and a rope way down to the river and onsen proper. Even if you are not a lover of hot springs this is worth the trip. At the bottom there are the baths, outside right next to the river in a deep gorge. The water is not super hot and very silky, a great place to sit. There are places to walk, bridges to cross and places to have a picnic.
From the onsen you can continue on by bus (they are not too frequent) or you can walk. After a very pleasant walk (all slightly downhill) of about 3 hours you will come to Kazurabashi which is a bridge made of vines. No big thing, and there is a nice concrete one next to it. There are some inns and this is a good place to spend the night.The next morning you can reverse the trip or continue on to Oboke. To get to Oboke, take a bus (be careful – there are only three a day and the first leaves at 7.30 am). Don’t worry about getting up on time because there is a very loud air raid warning at 6.00 am. The bus will take you up into the mountains and back down again; about an hour. At Oboke there is a boat ride to Koboke and back which is worth it. At Oboke you can get a train back to Awa-Ikeda. They run about every 2 hours.
photo by CES