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.