With our last day of the JR pass we headed up into the mountainous area of Minakami, in Gunma prefecture
It was nice to get out of the city again and see some more of the stunning natural beauty of Japan. We had booked to do a half day white water rafting tour through Canyons. We were kindly met at the train station by one of the staff members who drove us in his car to the Canyons center. He spoke great English and it was nice to have a chat with someone who lived in rural Japan. Once at Canyons we really wished we had booked a night there. Staffed by many New Zealanders (as a lot of extreme sport places are world wide), with friendly staff and fellow travellers, Canyons is a great place to spend some time. That night a band were coming from New Zealand to play a gig, which seems to happen quite regularly there. There was also a BBQ of which you could pay to get some food before the tour.
Unsurprisingly I don’t have any photos of the rafting that I took (for obvious reasons), although somewhere I do have a disc of photos taken by the professional photographer that sits at spots along the trail to take snaps for souvenirs. Hopefully I’ll dig that up someday.
We had booked a half day summer tour, which is a level 1 rapid (lowest level). This is because during the summer months less water is coming off of the mountains meaning the flow is slower and the river is more shallow. For a more intense experience they recommend coming in the spring- the river opens up around the end of April at the end of the ski season.
It was such a great experience, our boat guide was great and we got teamed up with some other English speaking members (there were 5 English speakers out of about 5 boats). The rapids were still fun, even if they were low, and we even got to capsise the boat. At the bottom of the river they let you do a little canyoning, jumped off a 7 meter high rock face into the river… it was amazing!
I’d really recommend going up to Canyons in Minakami. They offer skiing in the winter and rafting and canyoning in the summer months.