Tone River: the roller coaster of whitewater rafting


Whitewater rafting with Canyons
Whitewater rafting with Canyons

If you're looking for an adventurous way to cool down, there's nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of whitewater rafting. And there's no better place than Tone River in the early season to get that roller-coaster ride on the rapids.

Whitewater rafting is more than just an upper-body workout. It will put your strength, balance and endurance to the test as well as give you a new appreciation for teamwork as you work in unison with everyone else to control the raft. You may even get in a little swim time - all while having a thrill few in the big city ever know.

An hour and-a-half train ride from Tokyo's Ueno Station will get you to Tone River, which is used to qualify for the whitewater-rafting World Cup. Thanks to the spring melt, this river surges with up to grade-4 rapids, says rafting veteran Mike Harris, 32. The native of New Zeeland should know; he has been riding the rapids for 11 years.

"It's a world class river," says the operator of nearby Canyons Outdoor Adventure Experiences. "It's a very continuous river full of action in the spring season. In summers, dams stop releasing water and it drops down to a 1- or 2-grade river which makes it great for kids and families or people who don't want the danger but like the thrills." But for those who want the full-throttle effects spring season offers: "Its like a natural roller coaster - the speed, the drop. The boat can flip, People do fall in."

Guides like Harris, however, are there to make sure it's all in good fun. For about 9,000 yen, Canyons offers three-hour trips along the Momijikyo section of the river, which boast more than seven 3- to 4-grade rapids in a 1-km stretch of the 12-km course. All you need is swimwear and towels and Canyon's provides the rest. The monster rapids aren't daunting any first-timers. Nearly a third of Canyon's whitewater clients this spring have been newbies, Harris says: "If you're going to do it you might as well go whole hog."

To get to Tone River from Tokyo's Ueno Station take the Tanigawa No.421 to Jomokogen Station for about 5,000 yen. Nearby Minakami Onsen, barbeque facilities as well as other available activities indicate it's best to make a day of the trip.

For more information on whitewater rafting and other adventures Canyons offers check out: http://

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