Historically, suspension bridges made of mountain vines (kazurabashi) were one of the only ways to transport people and goods across the rivers of the of the Iya Valley. Legend tells us that they were either first raised by Kobo Daishi, founder of the Shingon Sect of Japanese Buddhism, or made by Heike refugees hiding out in the area after being defeated in the Gempei Wars (1180-1185) as a way of quickly shutting off access to the valley.

Originally, 13 bridges crossed the valley, but today only three remain. Iya Kazurabashi, the biggest and most popular of the extant bridges, stretches for 45 meters across the Iya River and gives visitors a clear view of the water churning 14 meters below the open slats of the bridge. The bridge, which is rebuilt every three years, is securely fastened to huge cedar trees at both ends and has steel cables hidden within the vines as an additional safety measure.

Come and visit the beautiful Iya Valley and find out if you’re brave enough to cross!