Shikoku’s Emerald Green Rivers／Kimberlogic
Shikoku is known for many different things, but my favorite is its pristine nature. Although there are a few small cities on the island, the majority of the island is made up of extremely small towns or villages, massive mountains, thick forests and crystal clean rivers. This summer we decided to do a road trip around the island and wanted to focus our time on getting into the beautiful nature.
The Yoshino River is one of the most popular rivers on Shikoku. There are many small towns along it and a variety of activities offered to keep a summer tourist entertained. The color of the Yoshino River is mesmerizing. In some areas it is a deep emerald green and when the sun hits it just right a few colors of the rainbow will sparkle through it. In shallower parts, the water is a bright, icy blue and you can see straight to the bottom as if looking through a glass.
We got lucky when we drove through the Iya Valley. The morning started out a little rainy, so I guess all of the tourists decided to stay inside for the morning, leaving us to explore the famous vine bridges by ourselves, without a single person around. There are three handmade vine bridges in this area, two at the same location and the third just a short drive away. The bridges are made from vines that grow in the area. Every three years the bridges are rebuilt for safety and stability.
Walking across the bridge was a little scary at first. I had to make sure my footing was secure and that I wouldn’t slip through the gaps in the wooden planks that were used to create the floor. After safely making it across the first bridge, I realized that was the “Men’s” bridge. It’s not that women cannot cross it, it is called that because the planks are spaced further apart for a man’s foot. The second bridge was the “Women’s” bridge. This bridge’s planks were spaced perfectly for me and I was able to cross without constantly look down at my feet.
We played on the bridges and in the river for a while before finding another way to cross the river. The third option was a manual pull cart. You sat in the little structure that was secured to ropes and manually pulled yourself to the other side. It was a lot of fun, but very tiring!
The final thing we really wanted to do along one of Shikoku’s rivers was canyoning. Canyoning is where you dress in a wet suit with gloves, sticky shoes and a helmet. Then, you climb up the rocks in the river and slide down the natural water slides or just let yourself go with the current, all the way back down. There are a few companies that provide this sport, but it must be booked in advance.
In the morning we were supposed to go, there were crazy thunder and lightening storms in the area. The weather cleared up just before we got to the starting location, but by the time we got dressed in all of the necessary gear, the river began swelling extremely fast from all of the rain that morning. Our guide was very experienced and tried to scout a location for us, but the river was just too dangerous, so we never got a chance to try canyoning.
Although not getting to go canyoning was a major let down, I knew our guide had our safety in mind and he had his mother cook us an amazing udon lunch. We were fortunate that we spent the whole previous day playing on the vine bridges and in the shallow part of the river.