Minakami Canyon Water Activities

Rappelling & Riding Rapids in Minakami

Several exhilarating ways to reconnect with nature and shake off the months of sitting at home can be found at Minakami, one of Japan’s premiere spots for white water rafting and canyoning.

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Feel the thrill of unbridled nature while canyoning and rafting in Minakami.

Feel the thrill of unbridled nature while canyoning and rafting in Minakami.

Minakami, a small town in Gunma bisected by the Tone River, is set against a backdrop of glacial peaks that lends itself to river canyon adventures. While skiing and snowboarding also fill the winter calendar, it’s the river valleys that attract thrill seekers come spring and summer. And canyoning, or canyoneering, is the most popular activity, as participants make their way along riverside canyons by means of climbing, swimming, rappelling, and various other techniques. Since the first canyoning experiences were held in the town in 1998, it has grown into one of the biggest canyoning destinations anywhere in the world, with multiple courses to choose from depending on level of ability and how adventurous you deem your spirit to be.

As Minakami is regarded as one of the top locations in Japan to go white water rafting, it should come as little surprise the Tone River hosted the 2001 Rafting World Cup qualifiers. If you’re more of the seafaring type, the river gushes at full force from May through June, providing ideal conditions for white water rafting. The waters often reach Grade 4 level, which is defined as “intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water” by American Whitewater, a rafting non-profit organization.

In summer the rapids are better for beginners and novices, dropping to Grade 2, or “straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting.” Summer is also the recommended time of year for families, with zip lining, swimming and mellow rafting activities available. Minakami is also full of onsen hot springs, traditional ryokan guesthouses, golf courses, and a variety of sports and activities like bungee jumping for those with steely resolve.

Minakami Canyon Water Activities

Minakami Canyon Water Activities

Cities may flourish in Gunma’s lowlands, but up in the mountains, high-octane outdoor sports reign supreme. Just three hours from Tokyo by train or car, it’s an excellent road trip destination for you and your friends to get out in nature. And if you’re looking for more ways to pass the time in and around Tokyo, check out our model itineraries here.


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