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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Oboke & Koboke 大歩危小歩危

Maximum whitewater thrills in two canyons, wild geological formations and onsen

Oboke and Koboke are narrow canyons near the edge of the Iya Valley in the mountains of Tokushima, a prefecture in Shikoku, Japan's smallest main island. The stretch of the Yoshino River that runs through the valley here is prime whitewater rafting, canyoning and kayaking territory.

If you choose not to challenge the rapids, try the sightseeing boat cruise, or ride a bus that runs above and beside the river between March and November. In November, there's a special trolley called the Oboke Trolley Train. The area also offers museums dedicated to gems and mythical creatures, and some great onsen as well.

Don't Miss

  • Whitewater rafting down the Yoshino River
  • An Oboke Sightseeing Boat Cruise
  • The gem and yokai museums at the Lapis Okobe rest area

How to Get There

It takes one hour and 15 minutes from Haneda Airport (Tokyo) to Tokushima Airport, and 30 minutes by bus from the airport to Tokushima Station. From Tokushima Station, it takes one hour and 35 minutes to Koboke and one hour and 40 minutes to Oboke on the JR Tokushima Dosan Line (limited express) via Awa Ikeda Station.

The hourly limited express trains between Okayama and Kochi also stop at Oboke Station. It is also possible to get to Oboke in 40 minutes by bus from Awa Ikeda Station. There are four bus departures a day.

The upper bounds of the Yoshino River

The majestic Yoshino River is Tokushima’s largest river, and flows across many of the island's prefectures from west to east. Following the river upstream, you’ll come upon the spectacular V-shaped gorges of Oboke and Koboke, and areas inhabited by wild deer, monkeys and boar.

Taking dangerous steps big and small

The landscape is marked by steep mountainsides, the very trait that inspired the canyon names. Oboke and Koboke are literally translated as “big dangerous steps” and “small dangerous steps,” respectively, owing to the sheer slopes with narrow paths that can indeed be tricky to walk along.

A paradise for outdoor adventurers

Oboke and Koboke have become a mecca for lovers of the outdoors, and the canyons play host to some of Japan’s most adventurous activities, including thrilling whitewater rafting, canyoning and river kayaking.

World-class whitewater rafting

Narrow, rocky Oboke Canyon and its river rapids create the perfect conditions for whitewater rafting. The powerful water flow and significant drop-offs make it the place to experience some of Japan’s finest rafting. In fact, the World Rafting Championship was held here in 2017.

Oboke is typically the starting point for both full-day or half-day cruises, and outfitters can accommodate a range of abilities, from the casual explorer to more dedicated outdoorsmen and women.

Peaceful river cruising

Further downstream from the whitewater rapids, the Oboke Sightseeing Boat Cruise offers a tranquil 30-minute ride though the gorge on a small tour boat. There are one-of-a-kind sights to be appreciated in all four seasons, with snow-capped mountains in the winter, wild cherry trees coloring the hillside in spring, fresh green leaves in summer, and the warmly colored leaves of autumn.

Get off to a rocky—or spooky—start

Be sure to stop at the Lapis Oboke rest area, which houses both a gem museum and a yokai museum. The yokai museum will introduce you to the fascinating ghosts and fantastic mythical beasts of Japanese folklore. The Yokai Festival is held every November.

The gem museum displays rocks and gemstones from the area as well as around the world, and tells you about the unusual geological strata of the Oboke Canyon. The facility also includes a tourist information center, a cafe, a free foot bath, and shops, making it an ideal place for a break.

Gateway to the Iya Valley

Oboke also serves as a jump-off point into the Iya Valley, one of Japan's remotest regions, with unusual vine bridges, centuries-old thatched-roof farmhouses and breathtaking mountain scenery. Combine a visit to the Iya Valley in with your trip to Oboke and Koboke. Oboke Iya Hot Spring Village is a great place for a mountain onsen break.

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