Kayaking and Rafting

Yoshino River ParkFall is a great time for kayaking, canyoning and rafting. These sports also offer a great way to see some of Japan’s amazing scenery. Imagine kayaking with views of Mt. Fuji, paddling down Shikoku’s scenic Yoshino River or gliding among the calm waters of the Seto Inland Sea. From rivers to seas, these sports will be sure to give you a Japanese thrill.

Here is a quick list of some of the best places to hit the rivers and seas on Japan’s four main islands from North to South.


Scott Adventure Sports (SAS) offers white water rafting, ducky (inflatable boats) and canyoning from April thru October. Canyoning is a combination of abseiling waterfalls and cliffs and sliding down natural chutes of water into pools. SAS is located in the mountain range of the Niseko Ski Areas. Niseko is famous for its powder snow (15 meters per year!) and when this snow starts melting in April, the rivers swell and make for some great rafting.

SAS has over 10 years in the rafting business. Guides all speak English. See their website at http://www.sas-net.com/

Eastern Japan

Bashukway Travel offers specialized adventure tours for women, small groups and even individuals. Try their one-day tour “coasteering” the Izu peninsula. Coasteering is a combination of walking, scrambling, climbing, swimming and jumping into pools of water—all activities done along the sea coast. Wetsuits, helmets and gloves provided.


Western Japan—Seto Inland Sea

Japan’s Inland Sea offers great kayaking and canoeing for beginners because of its calm waters. There are also more challenging guided kayaking tours that go through the Inland Sea for several days at a time. Practically every island (and there are over 250 inhabited islands in the Inland Sea) has kayak rentals. Look for marine stations, called “umi no eki” which often have kayak rentals. Maejima, Miyajima, Oshima Shimanami Kaido Islands, Shimokamagari Island, Shiraishijima, and Shodoshima are just a few islands offering kayaking.


The best place to raft in Shikoku is on the Yoshino River. Happy Raft located on the Yoshino River in Iwahara, the heart of Shikoku, offers rafting, canyoning and combinations of the two. Half day to two day tours. Staff from Australia, New Zealand and Japan. See http://www.happyraft.com/en/


Yakushima Nature Activity Center on the island of Yakushima, off Kagoshima offers river and sea kayaking. Yakushima is a UNESCO site and offers many other things to do, including visiting the Cedars which are thousands of years old. Don’t miss kayaking through this nature wonderland!

Yakushima Nature Activity Center’s English Homepage

http://www.ynac.com (click on “English”)

Amy Chavez is a columnist for The Japan Times. Visit her website at http://www.moooobar.com