If you have been on your feet/bus/train/plane/whatever for the past while and what some down time and/or you are interested in staying in a Japanese guest house, finish the day with some well-earned drinks and a BBQ, there is an array of guest houses available to choose from. If, however, you have a large vehicle other than a Kei car, you may be a little more limited with choice as the mountain roads are very narrow and steep around Iwahara. If you want to have a bit more of a personal and more social experience then we recommend to stay in the ‘Teruya’ guest house. At 3,500JPY a night per person, how can you go wrong? All facilities are included, including a large bathtub and shower space separate from the main house, BBQs, kitchen and lounge space, bedrooms, bedding, but make sure to bring your own towels! The sunsets and sunrises are brilliantly awe-inspiring and the stars at night are endless. Should anything come up throughout the night or if you have any questions, Myself and Miki are caretakers of the ‘Teruya’ guest house and we live on site. All of the other guest houses are with local families and is a fantastic chance so see how traditional countryside Japanese folk have been living over the past centuries.
The most beautiful Canyoning I have ever participated in or worked for is at Happy Raft for sure. Happy Raft’s canyoning tours are available to sign up for from the start of July and is where I first learned how to become a Canyon guide. The canyon is on the very same mountainside as where Happy Raft is situated (depending on water levels, there is another close-by) and is thrilling to say the least. You’ll slide down waterfalls, zipline from one side to the other of the gorge, scramble across rocks and abseil down rocky faces. There is even a 40m waterfall that you’ll zipline down! The canyon is totally encroached by forest and has a very surreal and spiritual feel to it, probably why there are shrines surrounding the area to pay respects to the forest spirits. Spooky.
Furthermore, there is also a couple of local hiking circuits that is a must-do if you are in the area. These trails are ancient Samurai-built trails that have history dating back to 942AD some 1000+ years ago! Be sure to grab a map called ‘Kiriishi Canyon trekking map’ with English versions available as well. Choose from two main courses, long course being about 2 hours long, and the short course taking around an hour to complete depending on fitness levels. On the map you will also see an optional 30 min course for those who become totally entranced with the place and want to see it all. The tracks have been recently marked, are very clear and simple to follow and correspond to the map accurately. Be sure to keep an eye out for Lookout points, shrines, masonry tracks and flower gardens. A significant number of stone statues can also be found along the way so keep your eyes peeled! On the back of the map you’ll find some local history, stories and events that occur throughout the year that makes you really feel a part of what you are surrounded by and seeing.
Be sure to go to an Onsen after all this action and excitement to unwind and soak in a local hot bath to release all the hard work you have just participated in. Three main local spots are at Sun River Onsen, Mannaka Onsen, which are both within 10km from Happy Raft, and our personal favourite Matsuogawa Onsen which is quite a bit further than the other two but is much more personal and scenic.
Kochi-shi is the closest main city and is very famous for it’s variations of seafood, in particular, Katsuo tataki (Hay-fire seared bonito steaks) which are incredibly delicious and smoky. The best place to check out in Kochi for ease and accessibility to everything food, beer and socialisation has to Hirome Ichiba. Hirome Ichiba is one of my favourite places to go for selection of foods and meeting up with people, do not be afraid to approach a table of people and try to speak a bit of Japanese and ask to sit down and join them even! Hirome is locally known for meet-ups and socialising, and Kochi is not like any other Japanese city and is very sociable.
I could go-on endlessly about things you can do in Shikoku and just to get a few extra outstanding things to do off my chest, look up ‘Shimanami Kaido’ if you want to ride a bike between one city to another connecting the dots of islands with bridges over 80km, ‘Kashiwajima’ for snorkelling, diving, fishing and camping, ‘Oki beach’ for long stretches of white sand beach that give North Australian beaches a run for their money, and ‘Iya Valley’ and ‘Kazurabashi’ for stunning mountain towns and vine bridges that smaller Samurai villagers used to use as a Security system to escape larger clans of Samurai that threatened them 1000 years ago. Shikoku has literally everything you could want to do on a trip if you are travelling short-term or long-term and are a thrill-seeker or a family looking to have a bonding experience.
Be sure to call Happy Raft and make a reservation well in advance if you are planning a trip and be aware that during Obon (August) prices will be at a holiday rate. We look forward to seeing you soon and I hope to meet you face to face!
Ryan Forrest White Macfarlane
夏！！ ＝ 水遊び ＋ ＢＢＱバーベキューでしょ！！
◉ＢＢＱ場使用料（２時間） 大人 1,500円/お一人様
◉ ステーキＢＢＱセット 1人前 2,500円
私たちの住む【高知県長岡郡大豊町（こうちけんながおかぐんおおとよちょう）】という町は、集落の限界集落化から限界自治体と言われるように高齢者の割合が 57.97%、 全町民の平均年齢も 63.2 歳 （R2.2.29 住民基本台帳による）となるなど、全国的にも 例を見ない超高齢社会となっています。
四国の中央部の標高 200 メートルから 1,400 メートルを超える急峻な山岳地帯で、標高 800 メートルまで民家が点在する集落形態が 315.06 平方キロメートルの町全域に点在する典 型的な山村です。
Staff Blog – Ryan ①
Beautiful people and beloved customers. My name is Ryan Forrest White-Macfarlane and I am and Australian born White Water raft guide. I have been rafting for around 7 years and have worked in 3 main countries; Australia, on the Tully (grade 4-5) and Barron (grade 3) rivers, Japan on the Yoshino river(grade 3-4), and in Norway on the Strandaselvi (grade 3-4) and Raundalselva (grade 3-5) rivers.
I came to Happy Raft to work as a guide back in 2016 and worked for two consecutive summer seasons and fell in love with not only the Yoshino river, but Kochi and Shikoku as a whole. As I was still relatively young and fresh being 23 years old at the time I still had an unsatisfiable wanderlust to see the rest of the world which is the only reason why I left Japan to continue onto Norway for the next two summers to come. In that time after Japan, I travelled a large section of Europe and I also spent a significant amount of time living and working in Guatemala and Central America.
But, I still had a longing for how I felt while I was traveling and working in Japan. There was something missing, and I decided to return to Japan once again, while also following my heart pursuing love and the one who I now call my wife, Miki-chan. (Japan has more than just beautiful countryside, food, activities, tours and events to offer)😊
Shikoku may not be the first place that jumps to mind when you think of Japan, you’ll probably think of Japan as a built-up hive of concrete buildings and masses of people, and maybe if you’re a winter person you’d know that in Northern Japan in Hokkaido and surrounding areas, that the country has some of the best powder-snow to offer in the world. But, Japan has a little summer secret that few travelers have ever heard of and that place is Shikoku island in Western Japan.
Shikoku itself has a wide array of outdoor, as well as indoor activities on offer for you and whoever you are traveling with to participate in and can accommodate for all ages, capacities and lengths of time. The main arterial river that flows through Shikoku is the Yoshinogawa (Yoshino river), which runs from Mt Ishizuchi, the tallest mountain is Western Japan, all the way through to Tokushima some 194km away. Along this river there is a 40km stretch of river that spans from Toyonaga to Kawaguchi (Oboke and Koboke gorges) where the river flows from North to South which makes for some of the best white water rafting in the world. For an exciting yet safe experience the only way to go is to book with Happy Raft, particularly due to the experienced staff and their bi-lingual abilities.
Happy Raft has multiple variations of rafting, from family rafting on a mild section of the river where children from 3 years old can have a first experience swimming in a river (or in their life) with family members to watch on and cherish unforgettable moments in a beautiful environment. The next step up is Happy’s Half-day rafting course which is from Toyonaga to Happy Raft base in Iwahara a 4km section where you will experience a taste of what the Yoshino rafting scene has to offer. There are 4 major gekiryu (rapids) that you will conquer. This is a great choice for those who are a bit worried about rafting or first timers. Now, the reason that guides travel half way across the world to work as a raft guide in Japan is the Full-day Koboke rafting tour which is, as mentioned previously, world-class white water. Even if you are a first timer, you are absolutely going to love this tour but be warned that you are going to be in for some thrills! There are 8 major rapids that you will splash your way through as well as plenty more between them. This is a 9km journey that includes lunch about halfway along the river with very well known in-house made bagels.
Now, my mother is from New Jersey in the US of A and at first I was a bit sceptical about if these were ‘real bagels’ or not, but they are perfect in every way and constantly receive compliments from people, particularly traveling Americans. After stuffing your face for 45 minutes or so we set back on course straight into the biggest rapid of the day, Magarido. Good luck! At around 3-3.30PM, you’ll bus back to Happy Raft HQ, get comfortable and dry, with photos and merchandise to purchase being available as well!!
Staff Blog – Ryan ② Continue to next time.