Words by Katie Ray
Photos by Happy Raft
From snowboarding and rock climbing, to spelunking and scuba diving, there are many sports that adventurers can find in Japan. The snowy mountains, tropical reefs, sandy dunes and freshwater rivers throughout the country provide the perfect playground for those seeking excitement.
The Yoshino River on the island of Shikoku is one of those playgrounds. With powerful rapids interspersed by serene stretches, the river is one jungle gym short of heaven. For that reason every year Hiroshima AJET organizes a trip to Kochi prefecture to test out the waters—rafting style.
The weekend begins Friday night with a bus ride and a one-night stay in a Japanese-style hotel. Early on Saturday morning, we wake up, eat breakfast, and soon, find ourselves wet-suited up and ready for the water. However, before taking on the rapids, trained guides from Happy Raft show us amateurs what do to with those sticks called paddles and ensure that we are, indeed, happy in our rafts.
When the adventure begins, the guides lead us through roaring rapids and stop us to play in calm waters. Whether you have been rafting many times or are new to the river, each guide offers excellent advice, a great sense of humor and a little encouragement when necessary. They know the river well, and have a few entertaining tricks up their sleeves.
After paddling through the rapids, jumping from rocks and floating in relaxing waters, we are rewarded with a picnic lunch of freshly baked bagel sandwiches. You’d be surprised how many bagels you can eat after rafting down a river. So along with all-you-can-eat bagels, the Hiroshima AJET rafting trip offers an opportunity to check out Kochi prefecture, experience the Yoshino River and make new friends with other JETs — bonding through either smooth sailing among the rapids, or pushing one another into them. It’s up to you.
The 2012 Hiroshima AJET rafting trip will be the second weekend of October. Let’s make a splash!