This last weekend our group of JET programmers (Myself, ALTs, and Japanese friends) set out to Otoyo, Kochi, on Shikoku (one of Japan's 4 main islands), for a white-water rafting experience!
Click these pics to enlarge:
In Fukuyama, we had a restroom break, bought some more supplies, loaded everyone else on and rolled out for our hotel. Maybe our old, curmudgeon driver was trying to get us off his bus, or maybe we always drove like a maniac, but we got to hotel before we knew it and it was a beautiful, high-class ryokan. Even though it was now around 10 pm, three attendants in penguin suits waited to greet us and show us to our rooms which the lovely Myia, who was our trip leader, was kind enough to plan down to who would stay with who.
My room had a great time, but decided we wanted to keep it going a little longer, so we joined forces with some more friends to go searching the sleepy town for a convenience store. On the way we saw some dodgy-looking yakuza-type guys who seemed to be wearing some kind of festival clothing probably left over from the morning, but we steered clear of them and kept going until we eventually found our way. Our group of 7 got back to our hotel room safely and after a few drinks, songs, and stories, finally hit the hay.
The next morning I got up super early to use the hotel's bath house, before joining everyone for a huge, traditional, Japanese breakfast, then it was back on the bus for nap on the way to Happy Raft, the company in charge of guiding us down the Yoshino River that day.
After hearing our safety talk 3 times and splitting up into teams, we got on our boat for one last bit of training in following our guides commands. Finally, as our guide Adam, who introduced himself first by his nickname "Schmiegel", tightened down our life jackets one-by-one, he shoved, or asked us - depending on his whim - to jump in the water. From there we had to learn how to climb, or be lifted back in. Then we finally were ready to go!
Just before lunch we pulled up at some rock cliffs and almost everyone climbed up and jumped down. One climb was about 10 meters up, but I was plenty satisfied with my 5 meter fall. Then we rounded the bend, pulled over on the other side of the river, and climbed up a cliff to where fresh baked bagel sandwich lunches awaited us!
We were almost 2/3rds of the way done with our 10k adventure done the river, and taking a break to get warm, dry, and fed was a double-edged sword. I felt both immensely better and incredibly tired, but I knew that once we got back on the boat and got our adrenaline pumping, everything would be all good, and sure enough, it only got better:
So that was our Saturday! We got dried off and changed back at their base, they gave us some tea and cake, and we had a considerably quieter bus trip home, but fun nonetheless.