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Make Like Indiana Jones
If a day or two spent rafting, canyoning, and bridge walking (with a night in a hot spring) leaves you wanting more, grab your bullwhip and fedora and head farther into the valley. Mt. Tsurugi, the "Fufu-bashi" (so-called "husband and wife" vine bridges), and a handful of onsen-hotels and craft workshops await you. Driving there is not complicated per se—follow signs toward Higashi-Iya and Tsurugi-san—but the narrow mountain roads are challenging, and you'll want someone to mark the way on a map. You can also take a Yonkoh bus from West Iya to Kubo transfer to a smaller bus bound for Mt. Tsurugi, and get off at the Kazura-bashi bus stop. Buses are infrequent, so check the schedule carefully to avoid getting stranded in the hills. The taiken, literally experiences, offered by local artisans are unique activities. Making delicious buckwheat soba noodles is rewarding, especially since this region is famous for its hearty strand of buckwheat, but making tofu or hiring a local Sherpa to climb Tsurugi-san with you are great fun, too. For a full listing of these taiken, check iya.jp/takumi/e.htm. For logistical help, turn to the good folks at Miyoshi City Office of Tourism or your ryokan. But remember, the trouble with hidden paradises is that they're hidden. A car, some basic Japanese, and some gusto will help you get the most out of being here.
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