Sponsored by Nakanojo tourism association
Going to a Ryokan is usually considered to be a relaxing experience – lying around in the warm onsen bath, enjoying room service, and some sake. The Kashiwaya Ryokan, on the other hand, also wants to appeal to more active guests. To do this, they organize outdoor activities year-round. Depending on the season, you might be able to experience snowshoeing in winter, kayaking and hiking in the warmer months, and every June there is a 1000-man trail run. During my stay at Kashiwaya, I got a chance to go canoeing in the Shima River. It was a unique experience that I’d recommend guests of the hotel to try!
Seeing the Shima River in an Inflatable Canoe
A Ryokan offering canoe lessons is definitely not something typical in Japan. However, one of the staff, Mr. Sakamoto, happens to be an avid canoe enthusiast. Every guest has the option of taking an hour and a half personal canoe tour of the beautiful Shima River! First, let’s talk about how to prepare. When you are paddling around, you can expect some water to get into the canoe and splash your clothes. The Ryokan staff recommend wearing jersey-type material that can dry easily, and some kind of water-proof shoe. Sneakers, jeans, and other casual wear are not advisable. It’s best to leave personal items in your room. That includes your cell phone, wallet, and passport. You don’t want anything to get wet, so be careful. As for photos, the hotel staff can take photos for you, which you can receive free of charge. These are one-seater canoes so you will be responsible for getting yourself around; make sure before you get out to the river you adjust the seat so that it’s comfortable to sit in for the next 90 minutes.
Once you get in the water, the first and most important rule is: don’t panic!! I am far from an expert canoer, this being only the second time in my life I’ve done it, and the first time doing all of the rowing on my own. Not only did I manage to get through the course, I did it without falling in the river, and so can you! The staff, for their part, will take every precaution to ensure your safety. Don’t be spooked by their thoroughness in this aspect, trust me; the course is very doable, and fun! However, you should be in some sort of shape. To get from the road to the canoe, you have to walk up and down a steep hill which is somewhat slippery, and you don’t have the benefit of steps or a handrail. There will be some rest periods during the course, but try to pace yourself as best as you can. Also, the actual canoeing is pretty self-explanatory, but in order to understand the staff’s direction, your mind want to learn at least “left” and “right” in Japanese ahead of time.
An Invigorating yet Relaxing 1 Man Boat Ride
The river is highest in summer, but not too deep. Using the paddle, you have to push the water behind you, and steer in some basic fashion. Very quickly, you will notice your arms becoming sore. This is just something you’ll have to get used to, although you can also rely on your forward momentum when you need a short break. During the course, your guide will paddle ahead of you, and paddle in reverse at times. Do not imitate him! Paddling straight is hard enough, doing so in reverse takes more practice. Lastly, it’s ok to keep a little distance; you don’t want to be knocking into each other the whole time!
The path along the river is very relaxing and serene, with dazzling blue water. Along the sides of the riverbank there are beautiful trees. It’s a great opportunity to admire this scenery, but watch out for the low-hanging branches. If you get stuck, it’s better to lay back and go under them rather than try to move the branches out of the way. If you do fall in the water, congratulations! The Shima River is known to be able to cure 40,000 ailments including hemorrhoids, rheumatism and skin diseases. Unlike the onsen, this water will be cold, so get back in that canoe as soon as possible! After canoeing for approximately half an hour, we spent a while floating around, and leisurely chatting. Afterwards, my guide showed me to a nearby waterfall. Being able to see the falls up close is best, though watch out for the current. Afterwards, we started our journey back, and rowed to the shore. Since the current was strong, Mr. Sakamoto decided to tie our canoes together and tow me a short distance to our starting location.
Canoeing in Nakanojo is a great experience, both for recreation and to view nature up close and personal. After your workout, why not return to the hotel and enjoy a well-deserved dip in the onsen? If canoeing isn’t exactly your forte, fear not! The staff can either offer or recommend other outdoorsy things to do nearby. Happy trails!
|Address||3829 Shima, Nakanojo, Agatsuma District, Gunma Prefecture 377-0601|
|Access||[map]3829 Shima, Nakanojo, Agatsuma District, Gunma Prefecture 377-0601[/map]|
|Opening Hours||Cehckin 15:00 / Checkout 12:00|
|Price Range||¥15,600 〜 with dinner, breakfast, canoeing|