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    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, and it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.
    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
    • Autumn
      • video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi by Camper Van

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Winter
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.
        hiroshima skiing osorakan snow parkvideo

        Hiroshima Skiing at Osorakan Snow Park

        Enjoy skiing and snowboarding just an hour from Hiroshima at Osorakan Snow Park. Every winter, people from Kansai and Kyushu flock to one of the region’s most popular ski resorts for winter fun.
    • Travel
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
    • Races and Events
      • Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.
        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these fireworks festivals held throughout Japan this summer and autumn.
        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.
        summer events omm lite and bike hakuba

        2021 Summer Events and Races in Japan

        Check out upcoming events and races held throughout Japan this summer and early fall.

Spring White Water Rafting

After a heavy powder season, the snowpacked mountains have fed Japan’s rivers with fast-flowing rapids for some great whitewater rafting action.

Whitewater is classified into grades from 1 (nearly flat water) to 6 (so rough it is considered too dangerous to navigate). Grade 3 rivers or higher require participants to be 12 years old or older.  There are plenty of mellow areas in Japan for first-timers to test the waters and bond with old and new friends on the raft. With organizations such as the International Rafting Federation and River Guide Association of Japan maintaining high guiding levels and safety standards, whitewater rafting is becoming increasingly popular and accessible for riders of all ages.  

Tone River

The Tone River is Japan’s second longest river and is famous for high water in late spring, starting from May to June. The source of the river is near Minakami Onsen, making it the perfect place for an adventurous rafting session during the snow melt period with almost 30 kilometers of whitewater. “There are rumors the Tone River’s Grade 4 and 5 sections will open, which would make the mighty Tone the highest grade river to have commercial whitewater rafting in Japan,” hints Mike Harris of Canyons Japan. During the summer, the Tone River decreases to an easy Grade 2, and Minakami is a very family-friendly town with plenty of other activities on and off the river. Although most visitors opt for full-day or half-day tours, outdoor operators such as Canyons have begun offering five-day excursions from Minakami to Tokyo for serious rafters. Also with single-person “pack rafting” entering the scene, there will be more opportunities to explore waters difficult to access with a multi-seat raft. Keen whitewater enthusiasts can join the Minakami Extreme, a professional whitewater race held in the second week of May, while Riverbend is great for amateur rafters.  

Fuji River

Raft down the waters of the 128-km. long Fuji River in Shizuoka Prefecture with iconic Mt. Fuji in clear view. Although the Fujikawa is noted to be one of the three fastest flowing rivers in the country, this winding river that stays within Grade 2 and 3 isn’t too extreme. The views are stunning and feature waterfalls, arches and cliffs off which you can dive. Rafters tend to flock to this river in late July to early autumn, when the whitewater is strongest, but operators such as Natural Action offer professional guided tours, making rafting leisurely even for those who may not necessarily be super “outdoorsy.”  

Tama River

Okutama’s lush forests and deep valleys make it hard to believe that you’re still in Tokyo. Just a little over an hour away from central Tokyo, the Tama flows through Okutama’s mountains at a constant Grade 2 year-round. Starting this spring, Canyons Okutama will be holding pack rafting tours down Tamagawa and will be the only tour operator offering pack rafting in the region. The section for rafting starts in front of Mitake Station, a popular bouldering area. Okutama makes a great quick escape from Tokyo.   Arakawa River Another easy day trip from Tokyo is the upstream section of the Arakawa River in Saitama Prefecture. The river has a relatively stable whitewater flow throughout summer, staying at a Grade 1.5 to 2 with its peak season being in August. Appearing in the Michelin Green Guide Japan, the Nagatoro area is famous for its mirror-like azure streams, beautiful valleys lined with cliffs, and iwadatami (literally translated as rock tatami mats) that are naturally formed rock layers. After a day of working out your arms in the boat, soak in a hot spring bath. MOC and Nagatoro Nature Navigator offer tours in the area.  

Yoshino River

Further south, Shikoku offers some exciting spring and summer rafting. The season starts earlier than in most areas in Honshu, so rafting enthusiasts can start rafting as early as March. During typhoon season in late August to early September, the Yoshino River has arguably the most thrilling rapids in Japan. The World Rafting Championships are expected to be held there in 2017. “The Japanese men’s and women’s teams have been very competitive in recent years, so it’s a very exciting time,” says Mark Treston of Happy Raft. He recommends the Yoshino River’s Koboke section as Japan’s prime whitewater run, not just for the size and scale of the river, but also its clear emerald warm water and stunning canyons.

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