Most of the setting of Kyoto Animation series Kyōkai no Kanata (境界の彼方)—Beyond the Boundary in English-speaking markets—is modeled on locations in Nara and Kashihara, neighboring cities in Nara Prefecture not far from Kyoto and Osaka. However the work also includes two surprise and somewhat out of the way locations, both in Shikoku. In this post I visit Ōboke Station (大歩危駅) in Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture, which appears in Episode 10 when Mirai is summoned from her home.
The 2013 Fall original broadcast of Kyōkai no Kanata was an exciting time for me, as I was quickly taking in new knowledge and making lots of connections with the anime pilgrimage community. A butaitanbou (scene hunting) visit to Nara and Kashihara was my first pilgrimage made while a series was airing, and the first pilgrimage article I published. An adventure out to Ōboke rekindles the joy from those early days.
Even after getting to Shikoku, itself a bit off the beaten path, Ōboke is between 90 minutes and a few hours by train from major cities, with one to two hours between some services. Ōboke and nearby Koboke are steep sided gorges in the Yoshino River, which runs along side the JR Dosan Line between Tsukuda Station in Tokushima Prefecture and Tosa-Ananai Station in Kōchi Prefecture.
I visited on 2017 October 25 and referred to butaitanbou articles by @lidges (post), @ankou_anko (post) and @sky_dj_ (post) for details about the location. Once there, the entire scene from the anime is at the station, so it’s hard to get lost.
A newer shelter on the island platform has replaced the one depicted in the art and that was still in place during the broadcast, when most butaitanbou bloggers visited. Based on a quick scan of blogs, the older shelter was still there as recently as 2015 September.
I knew from other’s articles that there had been a way to capture the last cut from behind the side platform. On my visit, the access path is overgrown with weeds and an old wooden fence is the only thing separating me from a drop down into the gorge, so I play it safe with a shot of the wall and street above from inside the station.
On the island platform there is a miniature replica of the Iya Kazurabashi, a vine bridge over the Iya River that is a designated cultural asset recreated every three years. Ōboke Station is a gateway for tourists traveling to see the bridge and other points of interest deeper into the Iya Valley, as well as cruises and whitewater rafting on the Yoshino River below.
The station itself is unmanned, as in there are no railway staff posted, however local volunteers are around to help with directions. Taxis and shuttle buses make periodic stops at the station, including one that takes tourists to Kazurabashi.
Easy to miss, from inside the station platform area there is a little path leading down to an observation deck hanging over the side of the gorge with a great view of Ōboke Bridge and some of the rapids.
Outside the station, a small cluster of shops and places to eat create a nice anchor to the little town etched out of the side of the mountain.
Boke Mart is a popular stop to pick up provisions on the way to places further afield.
I only have a couple of hours before I need to head back to Tokushima, so I plan to just enjoy what I can around the station. I walk across Ōboke Bridge to see how the valley looks from different vantage points.
From the bridge, the water is quite far below me and dense vegetation muffles the reverberations. Other than the occasional passing car, there’s very little sound at all. Maybe even more enjoyable than the Kyōkai no Kanata pilgrimage is the few hours of relative silence, alone with my thoughts and this view.
The sun begins to set, bright beams poking through breaks in the changing cloud formations, dancing on the mountains.
I grab a warm drink from the vending machine down the street and camp out at a bus shelter to watch the light show.
I make a meal out of an assortment of things I find at the Boke Mart, and watch the sky change to pink and purple from the train station.
The last light begins to fade as the train arrives to take me back to the noisy places whence I came, and I can’t help but think I wouldn’t mind staying a little longer.