Shooting down the Kumagawa Rapids

Kayaking and rafting have been mentioned here before as some great outdoor activities to pursue while looking for a way to spend some time in Japan’s beautiful summer. The locations mentioned in the previous article were Aokiko Lake and the Tone River, both ideal locations capable of catering to suit the needs of the beginners seeing to get started on the water as well as advanced and experienced thrill seekers.

While Japan is riddled with ways to spend time in the great outdoors and enjoy some of the most breathtaking views in all of Asia, there are outdoor activities that allow for some good thrills to be had while doing so.

The Kumagawa River, frequently shortened to Kuma River, is located in the Kumamoto Prefecture, which in turn is part of Kyushu, a part of the far southwestern part of the Japanese islands. The river spans roughly 120 kilometers in length and is overall considered to be one of the three most rapid rivers along side the Mogami River and Fuji River.

This makes the Kumagawa River a well-frequented tourist spot. Aside from that, the river waters the nearby ricefields of the prefecture and flows out into the Yatsushiro sea. Well over 60,000 tourists visit the river yearly. While some may come for the view and surrounding attractions of Kyushu, most that pay a visit to the Kuma River are there in order to ride it – after all, it is one of the three fastest flowing rivers in Japan and is definitely worth telling stories about back home.

Two courses are available at the Kuma River. For those wanting to enjoy a slower and steadier ride, the “clear stream” course is the obvious choice. On the clear stream, the boat will travel around 8 kilometers over the span of 90 minutes and is great for enjoying the local scenery, taking pictures of the river’s fish and adjacent waterfalls, as well as breathing in the clean river air. The “rapid stream” option however, is, as its name implies, quite a bit faster as the boat will traverse 10 kilometers over the same time span. The course is dynamic and fast and really puts the boatman’s skill to maneuver and control the boat in the spotlight.

It is important to note that the Kuma River is only open to riding for 7 months of the year and is generally always in high-demand, making it crucial to reserve seats in advance.

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