Tomosuke Noda, canoeist, told Makoto Shina that he can see a different view each time he paddles.  (Photo: Bonson Lam)

Kayaking in Soyo Gorge

Fun and adventure even for beginners

Tomosuke Noda, canoeist, told Makoto Shina that he can see a different view each time he paddles.  (Photo: Bonson Lam)
Yui Yamaguchi   - 3 min read

Eiji Sugita is an adventurer who canoed the Yukon in Canada. For 100 days he carried his life on the canoe with a full provision of food and camping gear. At day he was earnestly paddling while at night he camped by the sandbanks, whilst keeping an eye for any bears. He mentioned, "Spending so many days in nature sharpened my senses and I started to notice even small changes in nature." After he came back to Japan, he investigated some places including Soyo Gorge and started the Kawajin kayak class to enjoy Kyushu's peaceful nature.

The meeting point for the class is Yamabe-machi Soyo Governmental Branch Office and Kawajin's car drove us to the bottom of valley on a narrow and winding road. They take out the kayaks from the storage shed and we're ready to board. We were instructed how to paddle and we were led a gentle part of the river which is perfect for beginners. Life jackets were provided to all participants.

The shape of kayak is like an elongated rugby ball with a “hole” in the middle. You sit down in the hole and use a long stick with two paddles at either end moving up and down for each side. If you don't give the same amount of the force to both sides, your kayak move towards to the left or right. You can control the speed of launching by the strength of paddling. You'll get used to it as it's easy.

Soyo Gorge is dividing line between Kumamoto and Miyazaki prefectures. From left to right and from front to back, you can see rich green mountains. The rainwater soaked mountains makes for small waterfalls. All you can hear is the birds' twitting, the small waterfalls and your paddling. This is a picture of Kyushu's countryside with the dazzling sun and yellowish green. You could swim here in summer as well.

Mr. Sugita is the Director of NPO Gokase Nature School who organizes activities through nature such as kayaking in summer, Skiing in winter, as well as trekking or camping in every season, with farm experiences, night kagura tours and the viewing of the sea of cloud in the morning. One of their facilities is called Gokase no Sato Camping Village, which caters for Japanese and International visitors alike as well as having a guest house. The details are on their website.

Yui Yamaguchi

Yui Yamaguchi @iyu.mura

Born & grew up in Kumamoto, Yui studied and worked in Osaka before immigrating to Australia. She lived in Adelaide and Sydney prior to moving to Brisbane. Her passion is reporting on the great things of Kumamoto and Japan to everyone around the world in a serious, interesting and funny way. Her f...