Sail Down One of Japan's Swiftest and Most Scenic Rivers

A traditional boat ride through Mogami River Gorge offers beauty in all seasons

Riding a riverboat down the Mogami River in Yamagata Prefecture is like sailing through a slice of history. The river, one of the fastest in Japan, was once a main trade route plied by boats bringing rice or safflowers to the cities of Osaka and Edo (now Tokyo). Such was its fame that celebrated haiku poet Matsuo Basho visited the gorge on his journey through Tohoku, composing an ode to the swift current.

Guests can enjoy a variety of different boat styles, from traditional tatami seating to regular chairs that allow customers to keep their shoes on. Reserve ahead, and you can enjoy an exquisitely prepared bento lunch box or warming potato stew during the hour-long ride. All passengers will be treated to a performance of the traditional river song of the Mogami River boatmen—and you're more than welcome to join in!

Boats run the river course 365 days a year. Spring sees fresh green leaves and newly blossomed wildflowers, while in autumn, the hills are ablaze in reds and yellows. In winter, put your legs under the heated kotatsu tables and snuggle up as you marvel at the magical winter scene.