So we were to take the Sagano Scenic Train in Arashimaya to enjoy the view and then take ferry back to the start point which is at the Saga-Arashiyama Train Station. So that was the plan…
As with many plans, things don’t always turn out the way we thought it would. The train ride was a pleasant one - nice scenery on the Sagano Scenic Train heading from the Saga-Arashiyama train station to Kameoka terminal station after which we had walk for about 8 minutes to the Umahori JR Station to take the train to the Kameoka JR Station. And walked we did… fast just so we could make the 1pm “ferry” ride.
So when we arrived at the Kameoka JR Station, it was already around 1245pm which meant we only have less than 10 minutes to get to the ferry station. But a ferry it was not - some things get lost in translation from Japanese to English. It is actually a river rafting ride - not a slow ferry ride down the river. We were given numbers and we were told to wait till our group number was called. Number 38 was our group number. As with all things Japanese, they boarded us at 1pm.
Each river boat is manned by 4 oarsman and seats about 18 pax comfortably. And soon we were on our way - but not before they did some weight and balance to keep the boat on even keel. A slow start down the Hozu-gawa river.
The front of the boat is manned by three and the back, the navigator. It started out with the two younger oarsman as the navigators and the two elderly gentlemen the rowing party. I was somewhat surprised that the elder folks are the ones rowing and not the young men. But as soon as they started, you can understand why - they are still very fit.
The start was slow especially when we were in clam waters. But that is expected and we were treated to some nice forestry along the banks with some unusual rock formations too. I can imagine it would be a lot prettier during autumn with the different colour leaves. What would probably be more amazing would be when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom! But unfortunately for us, we are probably 10 days too early.
The boat is surprisingly stable even when we hit the rapids. A combination of good construction of the boat and the skills necessary to keep us dry and away from harm.
Half an hour into the one and a half hour ride, the oarsman switched roles - now it was the young men rowing and the elderly guys taking a break as the navigators.
The ride was enjoyable, soaking in the scenery along the river.
The train tracks for the scenic train ride.
I was amazed by how skilful these gentlemen are. I was seated on the right side of the boat and I could see that they never once struck a rock - not the boat and not the oars too! Amazing!
A lone boat taking a break along the river…
Towards the end of the ride came another surprise - a river boat 7-11! The boat moored beside us and allowed the oarsman some break while the mobile supermarket sold their goods - drinks, snacks and even grilled food.
By the way, the ride is not cheap. It costs JPY4,100 per person for the one and a half hour ride. At the end of the ride, the boat men made their way further down the river where a crane was standing by to bring the boat back upstream. The boatmen will make their own way back to the start point by train.
And right there at the landing was the first signs of spring… Sakura starting to bloom!
A very enjoyable ride but expensive to say the least.