Posts tagged with "Paddleboarding"

Cherry Blossom illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Cherry Blossoms Celebrated

FROM HUMAN CHESS TO PADDLEBOARDING:
UNIQUE WAYS CHERRY BLOSSOMS ARE CELEBRATED THROUGHOUT JAPAN

With the much-anticipated arrival of their delicate pink flowers, the cherry trees blossoming in Japan is a yearly spectacle. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, cherry blossoms in Tokyo are expected to bloom on March 15th this year. Associated with renewal and the coming spring, the cherry blossoms (or sakura) spur a variety of unique celebrations and experiences throughout the country, with many cities and towns forming their own yearly traditions and unique ways to see the cherry blossoms.

Cruise the Matsukawa River, Toyama Prefecture

Travelers can enjoy hanami (the custom of flower viewing in Japan) as well as the beautiful landscapes of Toyama Prefecture on a special cruise along the Matsukawa River. During cherry blossom season, cruises on the river drift along with the relaxing current and make their way through tunnels of cherry blossom trees. Cruises begin and end outside of the Matsukawa Tea House, so travelers can enjoy a nice cup of tea after a peaceful afternoon of hanami.

Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride Through Kitakami Tenshochi Park, Iwate Prefecture

A massive park spanning over 700 acres, the Kitakami Tenshochi Park has been a favorite for hanami among both locals and travelers for decades. 2021 is the 100th anniversary of the park’s opening and there is a myriad of ways for travelers to see the cherry blossoms, such as taking a riverboat cruise, or taking a ride on a horse-drawn carriage underneath the “tunnel of pink.” Cherry blossom branches stretch out from the trees on both sides of the walkway and form a floral tunnel that travelers can traverse

Human Chess Match at Tendo Sakura Matsuri, Yamagata Prefecture

Ninety percent of Japanese chess pieces, or shogi, are produced in the city of Tendo. Every April, as over 2,000 cherry blossoms bloom, locals and travelers gather to watch a human chess match, or shogi battle, in Maizuru Park, where two professional chess players compete with humans dressed as samurai and servants in place of chess pieces. The festival also features taiko (Japanese drum) performances and delicious festival food like yakisoba noodles and takoyaki balls.

Stand-up Paddleboarding in Shiga Prefecture

In Kyoto, travelers who want to partake in hanami can go stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Biwa to see cherry blossoms bloom along the coast. Shirahage SUP at the Shirahige Beach Campsite offers travelers the opportunity to see the cherry blossoms directly from the crystal blue waters of Lake Biwa.

Moka Railway Ride in Tochigi Prefecture

The city of Moka in Tochigi Prefecture is perhaps most known for the Moka Railway, which has been operating for over 100 years. During the spring when cherry blossoms begin to bloom, the railway line becomes a popular attraction since its track is almost completely surrounded by cherry blossoms and rape flowers. Travelers can book a trip on the scenic railway between Mogi station and Shimodate station for an unforgettable hanami ride.

Boating Under Hirosaki Castle, Aomori Prefecture

Hirosaki Castle is well-known as a top destination for hanami. Since local apple farmers prune the cherry trees the same way they do apples, the trees end up with two to three times more flowers than normal. To see the lush, pink flowers, guests often rent a rowboat and sail it out on the river surrounded by cherry blossoms. The sparkling river coupled with the towering castle and the bright petals makes for a fairy tale to come to life.

Noh Plays at Night, Tokyo

Under the lovely cherry blossoms of Yasukuni Shrine, a stage is set and traditional plays called noh are performed. These plays often date back to the 14th century and include kyogen (comedic spoken dramas) and maibayashi (a shorter version of noh with music). Performed, under the yozakura (cherry blossoms at night), the plays are enhanced by the atmosphere of the lit-up blossoms and the bonfire, two integral elements of this experience. Japan’s top actors and actresses are known to take the stage.

Events and experiences above are subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For updates on travel restrictions to Japan, please visit the website.

 

Western River Expeditions

Some of the best whitewater in North America froths deep within the canyons of Arizona and Utah on the Colorado and Green Rivers. People hopeful of river rafting here in the 2018 season are advised that the Grand Canyon portion of the river is nearly sold out for the season with space beginning to fill for 2019 trips as well.

However, comparable adventure options on the water and on land are still available if you follow the Colorado River north into Utah.

When active travelers seek experiences similar to the Grand Canyon that also combine spectacular scenery with wild white water, veteran tour operator Western River Expeditions suggests that a Cataract Canyon raft trip is as rewarding and remarkable in its own way.

“Utah’s Cataract Canyon, deep within Canyonlands National Park, is near enough in scale, appearance and proximity to Grand Canyon that it works the same kind of magic found in the Grand herself. Just one canyon upstream, above Lake Powell on the Colorado River System is hands down the best alternative to a Grand Canyon rafting vacation,” said Brandon Lake, CMO of Western River Expeditions.

Cataract Canyon begins downstream from Moab, UT at the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. Expanded in size and now fortified by the waters of the Green, the Colorado River carves a deep chasm through the red rock heart of Canyonlands National Park. During spring runoff, the ride can rival the most legendary whitewater anywhere in the world. The remainder of the year river rafters are treated to fun Class III-IV rapids interspersed with calm stretches ideal for a swim under spellbinding canyon walls and geologic formations. Ample time is allotted for side canyon hikes and exploration of ancient Native American sites. The adventure ends with a scenic flight over Canyonlands on the return to Moab’s Canyonlands Field Airport.

Western’s Cataract Canyon 4-day trip offers departures in May, June, July and August. A per person double rate for adults (ages 16+) is $1,520; and $1,130 for ages 10-15. The rate includes equipment and guides for rafting, hiking and camping, plus guide-prepared meals, transfers from Moab to the river and the return scenic flight over Canyonlands National Park and shuttle to Moab. A two-day program on this stretch of the river is also offered in May, June and July. See Western’s Cataract Canyon Express, http://www.westernriver.com/cataract-canyon-express.

Also on the Colorado River north of the Grand Canyon Western River Expeditions offers a four-day Westwater Canyon Rafting & Multisport Adventure combining rafting on Class III-V whitewater plus a Hummer Safari off-road adventure. Guests return evenings to Red Cliffs Lodge on the banks of the Colorado River for overnights and breakfasts. Westwater Canyon was named “The West’s Best Short Whitewater Trip” by National Geographic. This program is available June through September at $695 per adult (age 13+) and $670 for age 12 (minimum required).

Full and half-day rafting programs on the Colorado River out of Moab are also available from Western’s affiliate, the Moab Adventure Center. See: http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-river-rafting

Looking further north on the Utah’s Green River, families will discover five days of rafting through Desolation Canyon featuring 60 playful rapids and captivating off-river hiking.  After a spectacular scenic flight from Moab to a dramatic desert plateau, the adventure begins through 40 million years of geological time. Think outlaw hideouts, ancient dinosaur habitats and Fremont Native American petroglyphs. The minimum age for this trip is 5, making it ideal for young families. The rate for adults (16+) is $1,645 and $1,025 for ages 5-15. Departures are May through August. See: http://www.westernriver.com/desolation-canyon.

Western’s vacation consultants also suggest adding extra time in the area to explore the many national and state parks nearby. Guided adventures out of Moab, Utah, the undisputed adventure capital of the West encompass activities like rappelling, canyoneering, biking, hiking, flightseeing, and four-wheeling the surrounding landscape. For ideas and details see http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/. Some popular ideas:

• Tour Arches National Park

• Air Tours of Arches, Canyonlands and Monument Valley

• Hot Air Ballooning

• 4×4 Hummer Safari overlooking the Colorado River

• Stand Up Paddleboarding on the Colorado River

• Zipline, Canyoneering and Rock Climbing

• Mountain Biking, Horseback Riding, Jeep Rentals

• Day rafting trips in Castle Valley or Westwater Canyon

For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2018 catalog, and for questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669) or visit the interactive website at: http://www.westernriver.com/.

About Western River Expeditions

Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center (http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/).

Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah and Idaho rafting, and international multi-sport trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the “Best of State” award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for twelve consecutive years.