Experience Mother Nature in Japan With 5 Downriver Boat Rides

Experience Mother Nature in Japan With 5 Downriver Boat Rides

26 Jul 2022

The KANSAI Guide

No visit to Japan would be complete without an exciting downriver boat ride, surrounded by the majesty of Mother Nature. These trips are recommended especially in the summertime as a way to beat the heat. Here, we'll introduce five popular spots, from thrilling downriver adventures to a slow cruise along a calm canal, taking in the beautiful scenery.

1. Roadside Station Okutoro - Log Rafting on the Kitayama River (Wakayama)

The Kitayama River is the only place in Japan where you can experience traditional log rafting. This roughly 70-minute thrill ride takes you down a river gorge aboard a log raft. Be sure to wear clothing that can get wet because you are sure to get drenched along the way, more than in other downriver boat rides. Reservations must be made by telephone or online before you go. At Roadside Station Okutoro, the start of the trip, be sure to buy some processed foods made with the locally produced Jabara citrus fruit. This refreshing fruit is made into juice, candy, and many other food products.

【Facility Name】 Kitayama River Log Rafting
【Opening Hours】 Check-in times: 9:00 am - 10:20 am, 11:30 am - 12:40 pm (reservations required)
【Days Closed】 Irregular days off
【Price】 Adults: 6,000 JPY (excl. tax), Elementary school students: 3,000 JPY (excl. tax)
Kitayama Village Tourism Center Official Homepage (Japanese only)
KANSAI Tourism Bureau Homepage
【Address】 335 Shimooi, Kitayama-mura, Higashimuro-gun, Wakayama
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

2. Kumano River Boat Ride (Wakayama)

The Kumano River flows through the sacred area of Kumano shrines. The downriver boat tour lasts about 90 minutes. The river guide, while narrating the journey, will take you along the same route the court nobles once followed. You'll be amazed at the natural surroundings that include waterfalls, boulders, cliffs, and gorges. During your trip, don't forget to take a walk along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, a World Heritage Site, and visit the Kumano Sanzan of miraculous virtue.

【Facility Name】 Kumano River Boat Ride
【Opening Hours】 Regular boat tours at 10:00 am (check-in until 9:30 am), 2:30 (check-in until 2:00 pm)
【Days Closed】 Open daily (open only to groups of six or more from December to February)
【Price】 Adults: 4,300 JPY (incl. tax), Children (from age 4 to elementary school): 2,000 JPY (incl. tax)
【URL】 Official Homepage (Japanese only)
【Address】 54-8 Kumanogawa-cho Tanago, Shingu-shi, Wakayama
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

3. Hachiman-bori Canal Tour (Shiga)

Canals have been used for transportation in many cities across Japan from the Middle Ages to modern times. The boat ride along the Hachiman-bori Canal conveys the elegant history of one such canal. Board the traditional boat with a roof, where you will spend roughly the next 35 minutes slowly touring the canal, taking in the traditional buildings with white facades and scenery that changes with each season. Try the Japanese cuisine featuring Omi beef, a local specialty wagyu beef, at the Waden restaurant located next to the disembarkation pier.

【Facility Name】 Hachiman-bori Canal Tour
【Opening Hours】 10:00 am - 4:30 pm (until 3:30 pm in spring and autumn, and until 3:00 pm in winter)
【Days Closed】 Irregular days off
【Price】 Adults: 1,000 JPY (incl. tax), Children: 500 JPY (incl. tax), Preschool children: free
【URL】 Official Homepage (Japanese only)
【Address】 743 Taga-cho, Omihachiman-shi, Shiga
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

4. Hozu River Boat Ride (Kyoto)

The Hozu River boat ride is a famous tourist attraction in Kyoto that takes you down a 16km stretch of river gorge from Kameyama in the mountains to Arashiyama's Togetsukyo Bridge. The beauty of a river gorge only seen from the water, along with the thrill of passing through the occasional rapid, makes this trip truly memorable. During the nearly 90-minute ride, you will be able to take in the natural beauty of the area which changes with each season. After getting off the boat, be sure to check out the Arashiyama shopping arcade that begins at Togetsukyo Bridge, to shop for keepsakes or sit down for a meal.

【Facility Name】 Hozu River Boat Ride
【Opening Hours】 March 10 to November 30: 9:00 am - 3:30 pm (unscheduled service on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays, with the final ride at 3:30 pm)
December 1 to 8: 9:00 am - 2:30 pm (unscheduled service on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays, with the final ride at 2:30 pm)
December 9 to March 8:10:00 am - 2:30 pm
【Days Closed】 None
【Price】 Adults: 4,100 JPY, Children (from age 4 to elementary school): 2,700 JPY
Official Homepage
KANSAI Tourism Bureau Homepage
【Address】 2 Shimo-Nakajima Hozu-cho, Kameoka-shi, Kyoto
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

5. Arashiyama's Houseboats (Kyoto)

The Arashiyama houseboat ride gives you an opportunity to enjoy the same experience that court nobles once did, while taking in the beauty of Kyoto's Arashiyama. The ride takes you around Oi River for about 30 minutes and surrounds you in Arashiyama's scenery. No reservations are necessary and the boats leave at any time. The scenery of Kyoto will leave you breathless, with the cherry blossoms in the spring and with the fall foliage in the autumn. You can reserve a boat all to yourself, enjoy a meal during your ride (reservation required), or in the summer you can see the traditional fishing method known as "ukai", where cormorants are used to catch fish.

【Facility Name】 Arashiyama Boat Rides
【Opening Hours】 9:30 am - 4:00 pm
【Days Closed】 Second Wednesday of March, third Tuesday of December, December 31 and January 1 (irregular days off due to inclement weather)
【Price】 3,700 JPY for each of the first two people, 1,200 JPY for each additional person
【URL】 Official Homepage (Japanese only)
【Address】 Arashiyama Nakaoshita-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

Be sure to wear activewear, as you might get wet during the ride. Enjoy the beauty of Japan's scenery from an all-new vantage point—from the water.

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