Going down Hozu River Boat tour VS Rafting!

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Kyoto Pref.
Going down Hozu River Boat tour VS Rafting!

This article is based on the coverage conducted in Augast 2021. In principle, the coverage was conducted taking counter measures against Covid-19 (to wear a mask, etc.) recommended at that time.

Hello, I’m Nakamura, a SPORTS LOCALLY writer.
Speaking of tourist attractions in Kyoto City, what comes to your mind?
I guess you may think of Gion, Kiyomizu Temple, Fushimi Inari, and many more.

Arashiyama in Kyoto has many tourist spots in a small area, and today, I would like to introduce fun activities I tried there; “boat tour” and “rafting” at Hozu River!

The light breeze feels pleasant on a trolley train

The boarding point of Hozu River boat tour is close to JR train station but to enjoy the beautiful nature to the fullest, I headed to Kameoka City by trolley train and horse-drawn carriage.

The starting point is “Saga” trolley train station.
I sat in a carriage with unglazed windows, so my five senses were relaxed by the pleasant light breeze, bright green of the trees, smell of the mountain and sound of Hozu River flowing.
The trolley train makes a brief stop in the middle of the railroad bridge for you to enjoy the view. The view, which made me imagine I would be dead if I fell now, was very impressive and I couldn’t help getting so excited! I truly realized how amazing it is to build a railroad bridge at high and dangerous place like this.

Going along peaceful country road on a horse-drawn carriage

I got off at “Kameoka” trolley train station, and then got on a carriage, named “Kyobasya”, drawn by a 5-year-old male horse, Ajiru!
Ajiru is walking with light steps even when going up a slope. I was told that he was a large horse weighing 1 ton. He looked reliable pulling 750 kg carriage easily! I was even more surprised to learn that for him, it was like humans pushing a shopping trolley!!
The peaceful view made me wonder “Am I in Japan!?”. I was on it for about 25 minutes listening to him clip-clopping. On the way, he pooped twice right in front of me, haha. The coachman caught the droppings at the right moment using a large ladle like tool while he handled the horse with reins. “Jinba-Ittai (oneness between horse and rider)”, it was a professional work.
The coachman let me stroke the horse, which felt so comfy!
It was like, warm top-quality suede, haha.

Now, the “Hozu River boat tour” with entertaining boatmen starts!

I have put on a life jacket. Let’s go!
There were two boatmen at the front of the boat, one was controlling the direction by pushing a pole against riverbed and rocks, and another was rowing. They entertained us as they showed us around giving information of each spot, they had a very good sense of humour like comedians and good at playing with passengers!
At the rear, there was one more boatman, who watched over the two, and sometimes he would give additional explanation and respond to the jokes. Good combination, it gave me a peace of mind.
When passing through dangerous spots such as “Koayunotaki” rapids, “Shishigaguchi”, etc., the boat rocks very hard splashing water and it goes fast, which is fun like I’m on a theme park ride. There are large stones of various shapes such as lion, Snoopy, book, frog, etc., and these works of nature capture my eyes.

Day 2: Very thrilling “Hozu River rafting”

At the boarding point, I changed to a wet suit, and then put on a life jacket, helmet and a pair of shoes for rafting to get started. The guide taught me how to use a paddle, what to do in case I fell into the river, etc. At this point, I started to become a bit anxious realizing that there might be life threatening moments unlike the boat tour. (I was overreacting, haha.)
Now, I’m ready to go!
Unlike when I was on a tour boat, the surface of the river was close and I could reach for it, and the water was clean and clear enough to see the bottom of the river, which made feel I was really in the river.
We practiced paddling as the guide Mr. Masa called out, and we were getting used to the boat and water. I wondered for a moment, being a member of a boat club would be like this.
When passing through rapids, I got drenched, the boat rocked so hard that I could have fallen if I wasn’t holding onto a rope, it was like crashing into the river (wall made of water) and so thrilling and spectacular. I couldn’t help screaming, haha.
But the cold water was refreshing! I would say it was like taking a shower makes you feel good. No, it was like you feel refreshed in a cold bath after sauna, perhaps (well, I overstated).

Though I was leaning back at the beginning, I started to lean forward after going through several rapids. Or rather, I was leaning out of the boat, being very keen on it, haha.
We enjoyed playing in Hozu River during the journey! We floated and swam in the river, jumped off a 4 m high rock, etc.
(I had to give up jumping off the 4 m high rock, which was too much for me with acrophobia…)
I asked the guide Mr. Masa “What if I fell into rapids with big crashing waves?”, then he replied “You’ll roll and roll as if you were thrown into a washing machine.” That’s not good, seriously. Needless to say, I held onto the rope more tightly imagining I might panic and drown.
After arriving at Togetsukyo Bridge, I went to “Fufu no yu”, a spa nearby to cool down my muscles that worked so hard during rafting. I also went to sauna and I felt totally revitalized.

Comparison of Boat tour and Rafting after going down the same course of 16 km (based on my personal opinion)

● Boat tour: Sightseeing on a boat. Entertainment with boatmen’s guide & chat, as well as admiring the view around the river. *Visually appearing

●Rafting: Moving forward by paddling by myself made me feel I was really part of it. Swimming in the river, diving into the river, this is an activity related to sports. *Fun adventure sports

Rafting was a lot better to enjoy Hozu River!!
For your information, there are several places that offer Hozu River rafting, but the one that goes the same 16 km course as the boat tour is offered by the organization (Hozugawa Yusen Sightseeing Boat Association) who offers the boat tour. Please note that!

”Obanzai” - home cooking of Kyoto and “Miyako yasai” – vegetables made in Kyoto

After enjoying activities at Hozu River, I wanted to fill my stomach so I went to a restaurant called “Kamo” in Shijo karasuma (Kyoto Pref.), which offers home cooking of Kyoto and vegetables made in Kyoto.
The wooden counter in the restaurant provides a warm atmosphere and it is filled with dishes of “Miyako yasai (vegetables made in Kyoto)” and “Obanzai (home cooking of Kyoto)”. Those colourful vegetables and dishes look mouth-watering.
I spoke to the representative Mr. Suga. “Kyo yasai (Kyoto vegetable)” is expensive having its brand standards, but he hopes that people consume those vegetables for everyday meals, so he offers “Miyako yasai”, vegetables made in traditional Kyoto. The vegetables were fresh and cruchy, and also rich in flavour so I could taste sweetness even without dressings, so delicious!

There were various kinds of “Obanzai” and I particularly liked salad of Yuzu flavoured Japanese radish pickles and Hijiki seaweed. Obanzai is usually considered as a side dish but this could be a proper main dish!

About Hozu River

Learning Hozu River related stories beforehand from Mr. Toyota, the representative director of “Hozugawa Yusen Sightseeing Boat Association”, helped me enjoy the activity, scenery and many more. The stories are, for example; There is a spot you can see layers formed 200 million years ago. / In Nara period, rafts were used to carry timber. / It became a tourist attraction when the King George V went down Hozu River on a boat in 1881. / People made rapids by piling up stones (river development work).

I recommend you try Hozu River boat tour and rafting in Arashiyama in kyoto.
I’m sure you will find the greatness of the river in the combination of stream pool (where the water is calm and deep) and rapids (where the water is shallow and flows fast)!!

Special thanks to Mr. Toyota - representative director of “Hozugawa Yusen Sightseeing Boat Association”, Mr. Masa – rafting guide, Mr. Tanaka – boatman, Mr. Suga – Miyako yasai Kamo restaurant and Mr. Okita – Kyobasya carriage!
■Boat tour / rafting at Hozu River
Location: 2 Hozucho shimonakajima, Kameoka-Shi, Kyoto-Fu, 621-0005
TEL: 0771-22-5846
■Kyobasya (horse-drawn carriage)
Location: 39-2 Miyakecho hatta, Kameoka-Shi, Kyoto-Fu, 621-0814
TEL: 0771-23-0920

■Miyako Yasai Kamo, Shijo karasuma main store
Location: 276 Ayanokouji higashinotouin higashi iru Ougisakayacho, Shimogyo-Ku, Kyoto-Fu, 600-8095
TEL: 075-351-2732

The sports and disciplines
of the World Masters
Games 2021 Kansai
held in the neighbourhood.

Toshiyasu NAKAMURA
Introducing the poster

Toshiyasu NAKAMURA

I’m 47 and I enjoy “watching”, “playing” and “supporting” sports.
I have multiple jobs such as marketing consultant, master of ceremonies, etc.
I found the best part of running a full marathon when I participated in Osaka Marathon in 2019, and I’m into running while listening to audio apps, and then get revitalized at spa & sauna!
I’ll be participating in WMG as a staff!
Also, I’ll be participating in Futsal matches as a player.