The Explore Niseko Blog

Rafting with Hanazono

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Beautiful Views of Mount Yotei from the River

As the weather gets warmer and the lingering snow disappears, it is time to break the rafts out of their Winter hibernation and reintroduce them to the river.

Towards the end of May, our friends over in Hanazono invited the team at Explore Niseko to join them on an afternoon rafting tour down the River Shiribetsu – one of the cleanest rivers in Japan.

We arrived at Hanazono 308 to check in and meet our guide – Philip. He gave us a brief overview of the tour and got us psyched for the river. Even though the weather was warm, the river was still quite cold and our shorts and flip flops were not appropriate river wear. Philip gave each of us a drysuit and wet shoes to wear on the raft.

After getting changed, collecting a paddle, helmet and buoyancy aid, we jumped on the bus and drove a short way out of Kutchan to the start point of the rafting tour. Along the way, we were instructed on how to hold the paddle and control the raft.

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Suited and Booted

We arrived at the start point and helped our guide to carry the raft down to the river. It was surprisingly heavy (although I don’t think that everyone was carrying their fair share of the raft!)

Once on the river, we practised a few basic manoeuvres before setting off downstream. We started with a few small rapids to get used to the river, with Philip calling instructions to us from the back of the raft,

“Hai, ok desu. Er, I mean cheers!”

This was the first rafting tour he had done in English this season and he kept falling into Japanese mode.

The river consisted of wide calm stretches – perfect for nature watching; to narrower white water rapids – great for the thrill seekers! On the bigger rapids, we were told to get down inside the raft and “hold on” so that we didn’t fall out. Of course, there were plenty of opportunities for a dip if you wanted to cool off in the river.

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Riding the Rapids

About halfway through the tour, we pulled into the side of the river along with a few others on the tour and piled our rafts on top of each other to create a diving platform. We spent some time perfecting our backflips and diving skills before paddling further downstream in search of some more rapids.

Eventually, all good things must come to an end and we arrived at the ending point for our tour. After loading the raft onto a trailer we were back on the bus to Hanazono.

Rafting in Niseko is a must do activity in the Summer and the River Shiribetsu provides the perfect environment to do so. If you are planning a visit to Niseko this Summer, contact us and we will help you book a rafting tour to remember!

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