Who would have thought it? Travel a mere 30 minutes by car from Kochi City and you can enjoy fantastic outdoor activities on Japan’s cleanest river.
The Niyodo River has been voted Japan’s cleanest river for the last four years. On this occasion, we had the chance to experience it on a SUP (stand-up paddle board).
Run by SUGGOI Sports from their base inside the riverside Kanpo-no-yado Hotel, we joined the SUGGOI team for a guided two-and-a-half-hour downriver SUP course.
We came equipped with swimwear and not much else. SUGGOI Sports provided the rest. After changing into our wetsuits, helmets and lifejackets, they drove us to the starting point 4 km upriver.
A short walk down from the road and suddenly the clear, gentle waters of the Niyodo River stretched out before us. None from our group of six had ever touched a SUP before, but the instructions in English and Japanese were quick and easy to follow. Soon we were venturing out onto the water.
Three instructors joined us for the afternoon and they let us discover the SUP at our own pace. Although the thought of balancing on the board in the river was daunting, with the help of the instructors we were all standing and gently moving down the river in a matter of minutes.
As we glided on top of the water, we came across exotic scenery and views only accessible from the river. The perspective you get from standing on an SUP was special. It was practically the same as standing on water.
With the river being so clear, it was easy to see all the fish swimming under the board. In some sections, the water was emerald green with vines and tree branches growing on the banks like mangroves. Even though we were just a stone's throw away from central Kochi, at times it felt like we were exploring a tropical river.
Falling into the river was the best way to cool off in the summer heat. It felt so refreshing. Towards the end, we all lifted our legs onto our boards and just floated in the water. I could have stayed like that for hours. It was reassuring to think we were doing all this in the cleanest river in Japan.
Back on dry land and out of our wetsuits, we had the option to use the hot spring at the hotel. All that was left was to look forward to the photographs taken by the instructor during our SUP adventure.