Sponsored by Hitoyoshi city.
Hitoyoshi, in Kyushu’s Kumamoto Prefecture, is a great destination for travelers looking for an authentic-Japan feel. Nicknamed the Little Kyoto of Kyushu, Hitoyoshi, nestled in the heart of the mountains, has a rich history, perennial traditions, and many temples in the city. Hitoyoshi has features of the Kuma River. One of the three fastest rivers in Japan, rafting on the Kuma River has quickly become a must-do activity in the region.
Three hours of Rafting experience on the Kuma River
Before embarking on the inflatable boat that will take us through the fast waters of the Kuma River, everyone fastens their helmets and life jacket, and our guide explains the rafting safety instructions. A group of six, all of us are first-time rafters. But there is no doubt that safety in Japan is always taken very seriously and I felt in good hands from start to finish. The explanations are simple and clear, and our guide explains with a few words in English.
Surrounded by lush green mountains, it’s time to step into the water before boarding our boat. A few paddles and we are slowly being carried away by the waters of the Kuma River. The scenery is beautiful and throughout the experience I never cease to marvel at the spectacle offered by the nature surrounding the river.
The first rapids are approaching and it’s time to experience the strong emotions of rafting on the Kuma River. Ranked among the three fastest rivers in Japan, you’ll need to pass these tumultuous waters on your route and taste the adrenaline of navigating these river waves. The first waves of water that come will soak you from head to toe, but it’s a delicious sensation and as soon as we’ve reached calmer water we’re already waiting for the next rapids impatiently.
There is an option to sit at the front of the boat to brave the waves. This thrilling mix of excitement and apprehension is a wonderful feeling. We literally hang in air above the waves as we make contact, so much so that we almost forget that we are on a boat.
When the water is calmer, you can jump overboard for a swim and let the current take you. Shortly before the end of the course, the bravest can climb the rocks and jump from a height of several meters into the waters of the Kuma River below, pure and clear waters that have made the region famous.
The three hours of rafting pass very quickly. But the concentrated mix of emotions and beautiful imagery will remain in your memory for many years. After arriving at shore, it’s time to relax in a onsen (hot spring bath) included in the price of rafting.
Things to expect before Rafting
You can’t help getting wet when rafting down the Kuma River. It’s, therefore, necessary to bring with you clothes that you don’t mind getting wet, and a plastic bag for your clothes that you want to keep dry, and a pair of shoes. You can rent wetsuits directly on-site for 1,000 yen (jacket and leggings for 500 yen each), which can be an interesting option if the water is a little cold during your excursion. You will still need to always have a pair of shoes that can go in the water. The rest (helmet and life jacket) will of course be provided on-site.
Rafting on the Kuma River is available between April and October. If you plan to go there in early April or late October, better contact the center to know the precise dates of opening and closing days of the rafting season.
You can find all the useful information in English on this site.
There are two courses, one is 90 minutes (6,480 yen) and the other is 3 hours (8,100 yen). A minimum of four participants is required.
The center is a ten-minute drive from downtown Hitoyoshi and you can park on-site. It is also possible to get there by bus, but please pay attention to the schedules, there are few buses running.
You can make a reservation on phone at 0966-22-5555 and the staff speaks English.