The neighboring city of Azumino is famous for its wasabi and the crystal-clear water that is required to grow it. You can actually go rafting there, too and get a close look at these waters.
My recent half-day tour with Wonder Egg took me along the Yorozuigawa River to the Saigawa River. If you want to see more of the Nagano Outdoors, but can’t make it to places like Hakuba, or if you’re looking for a more laid-back rafting experience, this is the ideal way to spend time on the water. If you like, you can even bring your dog along with you!
Wonder Egg is run by Mr. Yoshizawa a.k.a. Kuma, who started the tours in 2000. An easy-going guy with rafting experience outside of Japan as well, he knows rafting inside and out and is especially knowledgeable about the surrounding area. While he doesn’t speak much English, he carefully went over the steps of our journey and offered elaborate safety demonstrations.
The short course takes about an hour one way. We stopped off at places like the Daio Wasabi Farm, and were able to walk along the banks of the river a bit during our break. Kuma was kind enough to prepare something cold to drink along with local fruit and salted potatoes (surprisingly satisfying after the morning’s rowing). He also prepares items from his garden when they’re available.
Although you’ll find the banks lined with trees and plants, the waterway is actually man-made. Originally flowing underground from the Japan Alps, the river was brought up above ground to irrigate the parched Azumino area. Unlike most of Japan’s man-made waterways, it appears to be natural, without cement embankments.
Rafting is available after the snow melts in April and until dry season in November. Prices for the short course are as follows:
Junior high school student and younger ¥5,000
Preschool (ages 3+) ¥4,500
Dog ¥2,000 (large breed ¥3,000)
* Single passengers require an additional ¥2,000
* The short course can be extended to the long course along the way.
The closest station to Wonder Egg is Hakuyacho and they will come pick you up. You can also get off at Hotaka Station and make your way over to the base camp by rental bicycle.
Please reserve in advance at 0263-71-6073.