An Extraordinary Way To Discover the Island
Gliding across the calm, emerald waters of the Anbo River, surrounded by verdant mountains and the high-pitched screams of the yaku monkeys is an extraordinary way to discover the incredible landscape of Yakushima. Either accompanied by a guide or self-exploring with rented kayaks, a tour upriver from Anbo takes a few hours. We savoured our independent paddle adventure having been kayaking many times before as a family.
We hired our kayaks from Yamashita Outdoor Shop, a well-equipped mountain gear and rental shop in Anbo. Our kind hosts had organised the rental over the phone due to our limited Japanese, although an email with google translate would probably easily suffice. The shop also offers guided tours on the Anbo River, which are ideal for anyone who prefers to have a guide, especially if the party have who never been kayaking before. The fee for three hours of kayak hire with life jackets for three was a reasonable 8000JPY, naturally guide would be extra.
Off we go on our Paddling Adventure
After meeting in Yamashita Outdoor shop we followed the owner to the water sports club where he provided us with buoyancy aids, before showing us to our kayaks. Jerome wanted to paddle on his own, Chris and I shared a double kayak, as my kayaking abilities are almost zero compared to the boys. Initially he tried to get in sync with me and my erratic paddling, but in the end I let him do the work and sat back to enjoy the passing views. At first houses towered atop the harbour walls, but soon thick forest took over the embankments on either side.
Reaching the Red Iron Bridge
The water appeared to be deep, a dazzling emerald to lighter shades of jade near the shore, where the sandy bottom looked rather inviting for a swim. The boys paddled too fast and we soon turned corners to find the prominent red iron bridge we had seen on many photos spanning across the deep river valley. Admiring the structure from below we headed on to find the water getting shallower and large rocks and boulders were blocking our path. Could this already be the end of our kayaking adventure? Clearly the experienced boys had covered a lot of water very quickly perhaps twice as fast as the average tourists!
The boys steered the kayaks onto a sandy spot and climbed the rocks to investigate if we would be able to venture deeper upriver. After some discussions we decided to pull the kayaks along the short section of rapids. Pulling the kayaks up the fast moving water was rather fun until one of my flip flops went cascading down stream. The boys dived in and bobbed after it adding to the fun. Luckily we soon retrieved it in a pool whirling in the water.
Swimming in the Clear River
We commenced paddling for a little longer, in a beautiful stretch of water, before more stones blocked the riverbed once again. This time we chose to not carry the kayaks across, however we pulled them out of the water onto a sandy spit and decided to swim in the large pool that had formed at this point. The clear river water was refreshing and much cooler than the sea, albeit the underwater life was limited to a few rock cleaning fish. Afterwards we enjoyed a sunny picnic on one of the large boulders, surrounded by the emerald waters and the verdant virgin forests.
Fun Ride Through the Rapids
On our return the boys decided to take the rapids, rather than pulling the kayaks along the shore. They thoroughly enjoyed the fun ride, completely ignoring my concerns. We made it safely through the “fierce waters” of Anbo River and admittedly it looked far wilder to me than it actually was. Once we had reached the calmer waters again we paddled past a family on a guided tour. They had found a spot on one of the sandy beaches to rest.
An Enjoyable Expedition
Our kayak tour was over faster than expected, the boys were too quick and if we had not taken the added extension, plus a lazy swim and picnic we would have returned after only an hour of paddling. However we enjoyed our little kayak expedition on Yakushima and recommend seeing the landscape from a different perspective to all travellers staying longer on the island than just a flying visit.
Where we stayed in Kyushu:
Sankara Resort treat yourself to a truly luxurious stay on the island.
Kirishima Kokusei for those wanting to stay in Kirishima Onsen
Ryokan Shinsen if you fancy a luxury ryokan experience
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