What to do with a repeat visitor to Japan, who only has one full day between when his business trip ends and he returns home??
Active, intrepid and looking to get out of the city - the answer was easy - Minakami, Gunma, Japan. Minakami serves as a hub for adventure sports in Japan. Andrew and I got to try our hands at Canyoning. The best way to describe canyoning....it's like rafting, without the raft.
Canyoning gives "going with the flow" a whole new meaning.
Top-10 Canyoning Takeaways
1. Always be breathing out, or plug your nose.
The experience of canyoning is 10 times more enjoyable when you don't have water going up your nose!
2. Be the first in the canyon, start early!
We started our adventure at 8am and were able to do a whole lap in the canyon before other groups showed up. It's way more leisurely and playful when you have the canyon to yourself. The canyon can get really crowded during peak season (August) so try and go during shoulder season, or on weekdays to avoid the crowds.
3. Going down head first isn't as scary as you think.
You seem to stay shallower then going feet first. Just cover your face as you surface in case you come up by rocks.
4. Allow for adequate space between individuals when jumping together into pools.
5. Roll away from waterfalls.
If you keep the water rolling off your back, you can keep the fall from pulling you to the center and getting your head pounded. For this fall we rolled to the right and kept the water rolling down our left shoulder.
6. You don't need goggles.
The water is crisp and clear!
7. Pulling your own ripcord is hard, but rewarding.
Just make sure to stand up before you let yourself go so you don't butt flop.
8. Train timing is crucial!
There is a 15:46 Shinkansen from Ueno to Yuzawa and then a quick local train to Yubiso, that will have you arriving by 6:25pm. Just in time for a 7pm BBQ! Make sure to double check the schedule, because in the countryside the trains run much less frequently.
9. When canyoning, it's hard to look graceful....
Andrew pulls it off better than me....
10. You'll never need a raft in a river again.
Who we worked with: canyons.jp
A great provider with facilities in both Minakami and Okutama. Mix of foreign and local staff. All knowledgeable and friendly. They know what makes a great keepsake and are sure to capture the best moments on their waterproof camera. They have shuttle services that they run from the major train stations so check-in with them about their schedules - very helpful!
How to get there:
There are also local buses that run in the area when trains stop. A good backup option if you end up arriving once the local trains have stopped running.
*Check Hyperdia for schedules.