When people think of Shiga Kogen, typically think of it in the winter with all of the amazing skiing, onsens, and snow monkeys. However Shiga Kogen is equally as delightful in the summer with plenty of outdoor activities to allow visitors to experience Shiga Kogen beautiful nature. Some of the best of these summer activities can be done through Shiga Kogen Mountain Discovery.
Shiga Kogen Mountain Discovery offers water activities of stand up paddle boarding (“SUP”) and canyoning. It is located in the northern part of Nagano prefecture in Joshinetsu National Park. It was founded in 2017 by Yutaro Yumoto and Masaru Nakamura who are both from the area and certified instructors. Yumoto was inspired to start Shiga Kogen Mountain Discovery after visiting the Himalayas and learning about guiding and decided he wanted to start a guide company in Shiga Kogen to show people its beauty through these water activities.
Caption: With our awesome guide and Shiga Kogen Mountain Discovery founder, Yutaro Yumoto
In order to get the full Shiga Kogen Mountain Discovery, we decided to do both canyoning and SUP.
We arrived at the Shiga Kogen Mountain Discovery boathouse where Yumoto and Nakamura helped us get into our gear of wetsuits, water shoes, harnesses, and helmets. With our gear on, we got into their van to go to our first activity – canyoning!
Caption: Gear on and ready to go!
We drove around 10 minutes to get to the valley / river which we would canyoning. The heat was intense so it was felt great to get into the water.
Yumoto was our guide and he lead us up the river, climbing over boulders, wading through water, and showing us swim holes where we could take a dip to cool off.
Caption: Cooling off in the private swimming hole
We continued down the river until we got to some small waterfalls which we were able to climb through to be able to reach the big waterfall.
Caption: Having fun climbing over waterfalls
Once we got to the waterfall, Yumoto showed us how to jump off the rocks, sit under the waterfall, and even repel halfway down the waterfall. (For more advanced visitors, he will take them around the side to repel down the whole waterfall.)
Caption: Endless waterfall activities
The return to the van was too quick – aided by the natural waterslides which we could take on the way down the river. All too soon we found ourselves back in the van laughing about how much fun that was!
Caption: Why walk when you can slide?
Once we got back to the boathouse, we changed out of our wetsuits and into our swimsuits and headed down to lake for SUP.
I had never done SUP before so I was nervous that I would be terrible and just keep falling off. However, I was given a quick lesson on how to paddle properly and balance and with that I was off!
Caption: Already a pro SUP-er
I am proud to say that I did not fall off once (even though my friend says that it was very refreshing to take a dunk in the water).
We had the entire lake to ourselves and enjoyed paddling around the lake taking in the gorgeous Shiga Kogen views, watching fish, and playing SUP games with each other (mainly seeing who could do the most extreme yoga pose before falling off).
Caption: We know who lost that round
At the end of the SUP activity, we paddled back to the boathouse and got changed back into our clothes.
Caption: The boathouse
The boathouse is really relaxing with lots of places to rest. They also sell food or drinks as a treat after your activities or as lunch break. Definitely recommend grabbing a snack!
Shiga Kogen Mountain Discovery is a great way to experience the nature of Japan while trying out some new summer sports. Great team building activity too for any groups that are looking for a fun way to get out of the office. I look forward to going again in the near future!
Caption: The pristine private lake (view from boathouse)
If you are interested in experiencing for yourself, be sure to check out their website, Facebook page, or give them a call at 090-9359-6656 for more information on their daily tours and making a reservation.