I recommend :
Rafting & kayak, especially in May/June (high level of waters)
Access : By train
, from Tokyo area to Kumagaya (for example from Shinjuku by JR Takasaki Line, 42 min, 1110 yens) and then to Nagatoro by Chichibu Line (49 min, 740 yens); the cheapest option is to take Tobu Tojo Line from Ikebukuro to Yorii (about 90 min, 860 yens) and then change for Chichibu Line to Nagatoro (20 min, 460 yens);
, using the Kan-etsu Highway to Hanazono (花園IC, about 60 km from Ikebukuro) and then 18 km on a national road.
Internet : Nagatoro City
, the official site of the town.
Located at the boundary of the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park (which extends through the four prefectures of Yamanashi, Tokyo, Saitama and Nagano), Nagatoro is readily accessible from the capital, both by public transportation and by car. This is an excellent destination if you want to get away from Tokyo for an easy 1-day trip, and still enjoy some attractive natural spot.
Nagatoro is famous for its Rock Tatami Cliff (Nagatoro no Iwadatami, 長瀞の岩畳), namely crystalline schist creating successive layers of rock overlapping each others. It seems that this geological feature was in fact created in the ocean (when the area was covered by the sea) and shaped later by the river. The name Iwadatami underlines the ressemblance with a tatami mat floor.
A very popular activity is the boat ride following the steam of the river on about 3 km (30 minutes). Those long boats seat about 20 persons and offer close view on the shores of the river! If you prefer to do some sport, then kayaking and white-water rafting are also available.
: M.O.C. - Mont-Bell (in English)
M.O.C. is a famous company in Japan for outdoor activities, and have excellent facilities in the area. From their center, where you get clothing and equipment, you are brought by car to the starting point, where you receive instructions for about 10 minutes before starting the ride... It is possible to combine rafting and kayak - the price then includes the lunch in a nearby restaurant. Considering Japanese standards, those activities are really a bargain!
Most of the people just reach the shore of the river from the station and enjoy the view directly there... We strongly advise you to walk a little upstream, where the river is a little wilder - and where there are much less tourists. A small 10-minutes walk would be enough to get in a more quiet area. Good shoes are required, as you walk there directly on the rocks - falling down can be dangerous, as there are many cracks...
One of the "cruise" boat:
Bathing is also an option here (but beware of the boats mentionned above !)
Last picture, taken after then sunset. Everybody left, the whole area is incredibly calm then...
Another spot is the Mt Hodo (): from the Nagatoro station, walk away from the river for about 15 minutes; you will reach a cable car which brings you to the top of the mountain (497 m, 720 yens return / 420 yens one-way, click here for a kind of map
). Hiking to the summit is also an option. From the top, nice view on the surrouding mountains and the river.
JNTO - Chichibu & Okutama