August 4th, 2011 by
Category: Outdoor Activities

Hakuba is a great place to put a little adventure in your outdoors.  From the well known skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the winter, to the perhaps lesser known chances to enjoy such as white water rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, kayaking and guided hikes.

Much of this is accessable to travlers under their own power and schedules, but for things such as paragliding and canyoning, putting yourselves in the hands of one of the number of activity operators in the area is your best bet.

Canyoning, for those unfamiliar with the activity, could in some ways be said to combine “freestyle watersliding” with “wilderness ziplines” with “wild-west river fording”.  If that makes no sense, I suggest looking at the pictures for a clearer understanding!

It really is an exhilerating feeling, slipping into the purest mountain fed river, escaping the summer time heat, yet comforted from the icy water by the relative warmth of your wetsuit.  The walk down the canyon really does give you that feeling of exploring, of being the first person to cross this particular stretch of land and water, even though you know inside that it’s traversed most days through the summer by other drawn to the adventure. The hand signals of the person in front of you in line, warning of slippery or uneven surfaces, take on a level of importance that most day to day things lack, as your mind sharpens with the thrill.  And then, the jumps, the slides…  and the big big smiles!!! I’ve seen many pictures of people canyoning and that’s one thing that is constant… huge grins.

The season generally runs from May to late October, but check the below links for more details.

The depths of Shizen-ko 自然湖: a kayak tour of Otaki’s little known lake

July 2nd, 2009 by
Category: Experience, Outdoor Activities, Sightseeing

For details about Shizenko and kayak tours please call or visit the website of Ontake Adventure (おんたけアドベンチャー).


Shizenko 1

Some landscapes lend themselves to the aloof gazing of observers. For example, California’s Yosemite Valley with its enormous walls of granite, or Japan’s Kamikochi, which offers sweeping views of some of the Hida Range’s finest alpine cirques, come to mind. Otaki’s Shizenko 自然湖, meaning “natural lake”, is not such a landscape. Rather, its beauty and grandeur come only from patient exploration and observation. The lake invites intimacy and refuses to welcome those who are unwilling to engage it, both physically and mentally. There is no overlook; no viewing from afar. In fact, much of Shizenko is hidden behind bends of trees or within vertical canyon walls. The landscape is, therefore, defiant of the insouciant looks of passers-by. In order to gain any sense of it, one must enter the lake and sit directly upon its waters. A kayak (called カヌー, pronounced ka nu-, in Japanese, a phonetic translation of the word “canoe”) is a tool well suited to such an undertaking; it allows one to interact with Shizenko in a way that is deeper, and more equitable, than a gaze ever is. Ontake Adventure (おんたけアドベンチャー) of Otaki, runs kayak tours on Shizenko that offer this kind of deep experience-something rare in the Japanese tourist landscape of today. Read the rest of this entry »