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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

Action & Adventure

Kuma River Boat Cruises 球磨川下り

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.

Don't Miss

  • Beautiful views of the area's riverside vistas
  • Both gentle and thrilling boat rides in traditional wooden boats
  • Cozy winter rides with built-in heaters

How to Get There

The launch point for the boats is a 20-minute walk from JR Hitoyoshi Station.

Getting to Hitoyoshi Station from Kumamoto Station can take between an hour and a half to two hours, depending on whether you take the Kyushu Odan, Kumagawa express lines, or the Hisatsu local line. Taking the local train from Kumamoto will require a change at Yatsushiro Station, while the express line will take you directly there.

By far the most unique and memorable way to travel in Hitoyoshi is by the Hitoyoshi Steam Locomotive, which departs once per day from Kumamoto Station and requires reservations well in advance.

Quick Facts

The Kuma River is 115 kilometers long and eventually ends at the Yatsushiro Sea

Its pristine waters are rated as one of the top three most rapid rivers in the country

Flooding is common during the rainy season in June

A gentle cruise or a white-knuckle ride?

There are a number of different courses you can choose when visiting Kuma River for a boat ride, ranging from slow and gentle to fast and thrilling.

There are two main fast routes for the rapid shallow stream: the long course or the ultra-rapid course. Expect water splashing over the sides as your boatmen - one at the front and one at the back - expertly maneuver you through the rocks.

Alternatively, the short and middle courses avoid the rapid shallows, making for a much gentler ride. Enjoy the scenery from the vantage point of 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. The faster routes tend to be more expensive per person, but you can hire an entire boat for groups or special events.

Summer-month options

The wooden boat rapid rides are only available from April to October, while 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: you can opt for a "kotatsu fune," a boat that includes a traditional heater to keep your feet warm while you get a view of the river that most never see.

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.

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