The area around 4S Stay Awa-Ikeda, with its famous mountains and valleys that offer dynamic scenery, is renowned as a place where you can experience the wonders of nature. Yoshino River, nicknamed Shikoku Saburo (third son of Shikoku), is counted as one of Japan’s three great rapid rivers. Various river activities can be enjoyed throughout the year there, from rafting or kayaking down the rapids to sightseeing on a pleasure cruise downstream.
Expert instructors will provide support, so even if it is your first experience rafting, wakeboarding, or canyoning, there is no need to worry. These rapids are the pride of Japan and international championships are even held here. Please enjoy them to your heart’s content.
Another charming area for activities is Mount Tsurugi, which boasts an elevation of 1955m. It is the second highest mountain in western Japan, but the slope is mostly gentle and a climbing chairlift is available, so beginners can have peace of mind. It is attracting attention as an introductory mountain for serious trekking, too.
Mount Tsurugi is a site of mountain worship and has been used for training by practitioners of Japanese mountain asceticism since ancient times. Trekking this sacred mountain while enjoying its sublime atmosphere and seasonal alpine plants is an incredible experience.
■Trek the ridges of Mount Tsurugi with a feeling of freedom
Using the chairlift, you can enjoy ascending the mountain with ease from the trailhead to the summit in about one hour. Due to the ease of ascension, it is popular as an introductory course for serious trekking.
In the summer season, the “Mount Tsurugi Mountain Climbing Tour Bus” operates, offering a round tour of Mount Tsurugi. There are three routes (the Anabuki Koyadaira route, Sadami Ichiu route, and Ikeda Higashiiya route), all of which link to Japan Railway stations, so access is convenient.
Every year on April 29th, mountain climbers gather for the traditional “Tsurugi Mountain Opening” ceremony held at Tsurugi Shrine to mark the beginning of the climbing season.
On the Sunday after July 17th, the “Tsurugi Mountain Shrine (Main Shrine) Grand Festival” event (Tsurugi Mountain Summer Festival) is held to mark the summer. With many residents from the area also taking part, it is certainly a grand event! The highlight is watching people marching along the mountain road and Sugawara carrying a portable shrine.
■Tree trekking at a height of 5m above ground, with the raging stream below your eyes
Near 4S STAY Awa-Ikeda, on the grounds of the sightseeing hub River Station West-West in the city of Miyoshi-Yamashiro, you can find Amici Adventure Shikoku. There, you can take in a superb view of the Oboke Gorge while enjoying tree trekking.
Tree trekking is an activity unique to forests that is tremendously popular in Karuizawa. With a special safety belt called a harness attached, walk in the air across various rope courses that stretch between trees. It’s full of thrills!
The required time ranges from about 30 minutes to one hour. Because a harness is used, even children can safely enjoy the experience.
The stage, built at a height of 5m above ground, is top class in western Japan, with 55 attractions across all four courses. While looking down on the raging Yoshino river, cross rope bridges, jump from tree to tree, and glide in the air as you hang from a wire attached to a pulley. There is an abundance of variation! It is a spot fun for the whole family that I strongly recommend.