Oboke Gorge (大歩危, Ōboke) and neighboring Koboke Gorge (小歩危) a little ways downstream, are narrow, steep sided gorges near the entrance to the Iya Valley and popularly combined with a visit there. Cut by the swirling rapids of the Yoshino River, their names mean "big dangerous steps" and "small dangerous steps" as their jagged, rocky walls can be perilous to navigate.
The gorges are one of the leading outdoor destinations in Japan, rivaling Minakami in Gunma Prefecture, and are known for their beautiful natural scenery and for the variety of outdoor attractions, such as whitewater rafting and canyoning, that can be enjoyed on the river.
Oboke Sightseeing Boat Cruise
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 Closed: No closing days Admission: 1200 yen
On this gentle 30 minute boat ride down the Yoshino River, guides point out interesting rocks, many of which resemble different animals, along the way. Boats depart and return to a dock a short ways away from Lapis Oboke and Oboke Station. Passengers take off their shoes and sit on the floor of the boat during the cruise.
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 Closed: Tuesdays from Dec to Feb (or next day if Tue is a national holiday) Admission: 600 yen (both museums)
Lapis Oboke is a rest area (Michi no Eki) near Oboke Station with a tourist information center, restaurant and shop. Inside is the funny little Yokai Museum featuring models and dioramas of the ghosts and monsters (yokai) that are part of the local folklore. A small gem museum resides on the floor above the Yokai Museum.
Hours: 8:00 to 18:00 Season: April to November Admission: Half day tours start from 6000 yen
The Yoshino River is one of Japan's most well known destinations for whitewater rafting, and several outdoor adventure companies offer guided tours on the river. Half day and full day rafting tours are available, as well as a variety of other adventures sports such as canyoning and hydrospeed.
Getting there and around
The hourly limited express trains between Okayama and Kochi stop at Oboke Station along the way. Alternatively, Oboke can be reached by train (30 minutes, 460 yen by infrequent local train or 790 yen for an unreserved seats on an hourly limited express train) or bus (40 minutes, 670 yen, every 2-3 hours) from Awa Ikeda Station.