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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Tenryukyo Valley 天竜峡

Traditional boating at the foot of the Southern Alps

Tenryukyo Valley runs along the base of the Southern Alps in the far south of Nagano. It's a great area for boating on the Tenryu River and taking in the gorgeous surroundings.

Don't Miss

  • Autumn colors as you float through the gorge
  • Hiking along the canyon near Tenryukyo Station

How to Get There

Tenryukyo Valley can be accessed by train or boat.

From Tokyo's Shinjuku, take the JR Azusa to Okaya, about two hours and 30 minutes away. You can also reach Okaya in about three and a half hours from Shin-Osaka Station. From there, change to the local Iida Line.

For the Garyu Gorge, get off at Ina-Yawata Station, which is two hours and 25 minutes. Boats ply the waters from Benten Port, a 25-minute walk from the station.

For the Tenryu Gorge, disembark at Tenryukyo Station, a two hour and 40 minute trip from Okaya. Tenryukyo Port is near the station.

Riding Heaven's Dragon

The Tenryu River's headwaters flow from Nagano's Lake Suwa, winding along the Ina Valley at the foot of the Southern Alps before heading toward the Pacific. At Tenryukyo, the river has cut the narrow and precipitous Garyu and Tenryu Gorges. The rugged cliffs, jagged rock formations, and abundant woodland scenery have led to a boating tradition along the river.

The tours run year-round. The fresh green of spring coincides with the flowering of mountain cherry trees. With the summer heat, you'll be glad to be on the water among the lush flora of the gorges. The spectacular scarlets and golds of fall on the emerald river is a sight to see. You can even do the tour amid the snows of winter, too, when they heat the bottom portion of the boat with a quilt covered device called a kotatsu.

Shooting down the Garyu

For the northern Garyu Gorge, the Tenryu Funa-kudari sets off from Benten Port for a speedy 35-minute ride downstream. You'll hit some rapids along the way, and the pro guides deftly maneuver between the boulders and away from the looming cliffs. The boat zips along through this stretch of river, and since getting splashed is likely, it's best during the warmer seasons.

The ride finishes at Tokimata Station and leaves you with a choice: Head a few stops down to Tenryukyo Station for a dip in the hot spring bath, or continue boating on the next section of the river.

Floating through the Tenryu

The Tenryu Gorge trip is longer, taking you on a 50-minute cruise. Known as the Tenryu Rhine Kudari, the tour starts from Tenryukyo Port near the station. Before beginning the boat tour, hike the easy one-hour trail starting near the station that takes in parts of the gorge.

You will leisurely coast along the gorge with the commentary of the guides. Many of the boulders and rock formations have names, and the guides gleefully point them out at every turn.

At one wide stretch of river along the way, they'll stop and demonstrate traditional net fishing techniques. They'll grill the catch right there on the boat. This is river fish as fresh as it gets.

The ride finishes near Karakasa Station, making it easy to continue your exploration. If you want to relax or warm up after the ride, head a few stations back upstream and check out the Tenryukyo Onsen area near the station.

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