Action & Adventure
Kuma River Boat Cruises 球磨川くだり
A proud history of boating adventures
Extreme sports and thrill seeking may not be the first things that come to mind when you think of traditional Japanese culture, but on the Kuma River, you can experience exciting boat rides in the spirit of wild old-fashioned Japanese pastimes dating back to the Edo period (1603-1867).
- Beautiful views of the area's riverside vistas
- Both gentle and thrilling boat rides in traditional wooden boats
How to Get There
The launch point for the boats is accessible by car. It takes about 1.5 hours from Kumamoto city. Free parking is available for the boat rides guests.
The Kuma River is 115 kilometers long and eventually ends at the Yatsushiro Sea
The river is one of the most rapid in the country
Flooding is common during the rainy season in June
A gentle cruise or a white-knuckle ride?
There are different courses you can choose when visiting Kuma River for a boat ride. Expect water splashing over the sides as your boatmen-one at the front and one at the rear-expertly maneuver you through the rocks.
The short and middle courses avoid the rapid shallows, making for a much gentler ride. Enjoy the scenery from your little wooden boat, and listen to the guide who will point out key features of the area.
Different options are available depending on the season, so confirm your selection before visiting to avoid disappointment. The view will also appear noticeably different depending on the time of year you visit, so bear this in mind when making travel plans. You can hire an entire boat for groups or special events.
The gentle courses are open throughout the year, although these can sometimes be canceled due to poor weather or flooding.
During the summer months, there are whitewater rafting trips, where you'll be outfitted in a helmet and life jacket as you climb aboard a modern rubber raft for a white-knuckle ride. Expect to get wet!
Staying warm in winter
With 70,000 tourists taking a Kuma riverboat cruise every year, this is certainly one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area.
Summer is the most popular time to visit for the warm weather and the rapid shallows, but winter has a uniquely Japanese charm.
Views for all seasons
Visit in spring for gorgeous views of Japanese cherry blossoms, or in the autumn to see the spectacular changing of the leaves. If you're lucky, you might see a yomeiri fune, a boat traditionally taken by a bride in formal kimono as she goes to meet her groom.
The latest information may differ, so please check the official website.
Because of damage by torrential rain in 2020, the "Clear Streams and Rapids" course was temporarily closed, and is scheduled to reopen in spring 2022. The Umehana-no-Watashi" course, a 30-minute pleasure cruise, is still in operation.
* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.