What do Japan and New Zealand have in common? Aside from being island nations of roughly the same size, not much. But there are places in Japan that remind me of New Zealand. Minakami is starting to.
Minakami is one of the hot spring towns in Gunma (there are about 4 really famous hotspring towns in Gunma). These towns have each developed their own character. Ikaho feels like Gormenghast, Kusatsu feels like Switzerland, and I haven't been to Shima Onsen. Minakami, feels a lot like Queenstown in New Zealand. The reason for this is the large number of outdoor activities that one can do in Minakami. Hiking, Camping, Rafting, Kayaking, Paragliding, Canyoning, Caving, Mountian Biking, Skiing, Snowshoeing, Fishing, with Bungie Jumping starting next year. Another reason is the high concentration of Kiwis in the town.
Anyway, enough comparison. On to the story. Well, last year Keiko and I had so much fun rafting down the American River that we decided to go rafting again this year. However, Keiko discovered a company that would let us do rafting and also do something called "Canyoning", which from the photos online appeared to be floating down a river and sliding down waterfalls. Anyway, we signed up, and when Manabu got sick at the last minute, Yuri took his place.
Rafting was fun. Keiko and I did basically all of the rowing since three of the people in our raft were American high-school students (we were in the English speaking raft), and Yuri, for everything she is good at, is not good at rowing.
It was near the end of the rafting trip that Keiko learned that Canyoning involved not only sliding down waterfalls, but jumping off of them as well. We then learned that she was very, very afraid of heights. Still, she stuck with us and decided to do the canyoning anyway. Here is our group for canyoning.
Me floating down a river.
Me waiting to go off the big 20 meter (60 foot) waterfall.
Me about to go down.
Me going down.
Me jumping off of a cliff.
And our group photo. Keiko on the left, Yuri on the right.
Keiko made it through canyoning, and our plan is now to go back to Minakami and go caving in August.