2-Day Tour: Tenryu River Rafting, Tea-Picking & Tokimata Fireworks Festival
2-Day Tour: Tenryu River Rafting, Tea-Picking & Tokimata Fireworks Festival
Descending from high above in Japan’s South Alps, Tenryu River runs more than two hundred kilometres through the mountainous heart of the country – a river road all the way to the Pacific coast that forges the local identity and feeds the riverlands. This immersive two-day tour takes you on an exploration of the river in combination with its most popular summer festival, the Tokimata Fireworks including river-rafting on the first day followed by a traditional river boat and tea-picking on the second day in one of Nagano’s most scenic locations, the terraced tea fields of Nakaisamurai. All guided by a local guide and including accommodation a hot spring hotel overlooking Tenryu Gorge.
- Enjoy an overnight stay at a traditional ‘onsen’ (hot spring) guesthouse including traditional ‘kaiseki’ (multi-course) dinner menu and breakfast
- Start your tour with the excitement with an afternoon of rafting on Tenryu River including the fun of white water and other activities led by a qualified instructor
- Experience the local fun and beauty of Tenryu’s Tokimata Fireworks Festival
- Follow the river deep into the heart of the region on your second day with a Tenryu Rhine-Kudari boat ride followed by tea-picking in the beautiful terraced fields of Nakaisamurai – one of Nagano’s most beautiful yet least visited landscapes
Want to join this tour from Tokyo or Nagoya? It’s easy to do! Scroll to the bottom for our FAQs including train services that you can use to join the tour!
The tour begins at Tenryukyo Station at 12:30, where your guide will meet the guests and head straight to rafting centre. You’ll first change into the gear provided to you – including water boots, life jacket, helmet along with spray jacket and wetsuit (should you wish to wear them) – before receiving a detailed safety briefing from your instructor. Once ready, you’ll be driven to the launching point and then it’s onto the river!
Over the next 1.5 hours, you’ll make your way along the river through whitewater rapids that thrill and gentler stretches that you can rest and take in atmosphere of the riverlands while your instructor keeps you entertained setting you challenges and activities to try for yourself. Great fun for guests of all ages, your rafting instructor will steer you along the river back to the rafting centre.
Once done you’ll be transport to your accommodation where you can unpack and enjoy a quick ‘onsen’ (hot spring) before enjoying an early dinner at 17:00 – a simple but enjoyable ‘kaiseki’ (multicourse) meal – and then onto the fireworks. Your guide will accompany you back to Tenryukyo Station for the short train-ride to Tokimata, where the fireworks begin at 19:00. The evening is yours to wander and enjoy the display with local food and drink vendors on-hand to keep you well-fed and happy. Expect a warm welcome from the locals as this is one festival few international visitors make it to.
After the fireworks are done, you guide will accompany you back to your accommodation, where they will wish you goodnight around 21:30.
Overlooking Tenryu Gorge, ‘Ryukyoutei’ is ‘onsen’ (natural hot spring) hotel with great views of the river. The larger hotel offers Japanese-style rooms featuring ‘tatami’ matting and on-floor ‘futon’ bedding. All rooms include Japanese furnishings such as low tables and chairs along with a private bathroom. The hotel’s restaurant overlooks the gorge and serves a traditional menu for dinner and breakfast. Ryukyoutei’s natural hot spring is also available for use by guests and though showing its age, the baths offer a sense of relaxation at the end of the day.
The second day begins at 10:00, when your guide collects you from your guesthouse and leads you on a leisurely walk around Tenryu Gorge before heading onto the launching point for your day’s exploration of the river. Running all the way to the Pacific Coast, the Tenryu River was traditionally an alternate route for trade and people into the mountainous interior of Central Japan. As such, the region and people forged their identity around the river, a tradition you will experience by first taking a traditional boat along through Tenryu Gorge and along the river for around 50-minutes.
Disembarking at Karakasa dock, your guide will accompany to the small riverside platform of Karakasa Station to take a local train onto Nakaisamurai. Following the river, this scenic rail route is largely undiscovered by international visitors and an experience in its own right. You’ll ride the train as far as Nakaisamurai – around 35-minutes down the line – and into one of Nagano’s most picturesque landscapes.
The tea plantations of Nakaisamurai line the steep mountainsides ascending above the river. This formation limits the amount of sunlight and imbues the leaves with a sweetness along with a subtle bitterness, while also dictating that farmers must pick the tea by hand – as modern machinery cannot access the fields. Nakaisamurai tea is a ‘first flush tea’ only and as such, no pesticides are used. Upon arrival at Nakaisamurai, you’ll be greeted by a tea farmer and first enjoy a locally-made ‘bento’ lunchbox outside before you guided through the fields to pick tea for yourself and then brew your own pot of Nakaisamurai green tea.
Around 16:17 you’ll board the returning train and follow the river back along to Tenryukyo Station where you can choose to end the tour at 17:16 or onto Iida Station where the tour concludes at 17:44 (or for guests wanting to head south toward Toyohashi and onto Tokyo or Nagoya, we can switch train at Hiraoka Station and transfer to the express service).
|Day1/12:30||Meetup with your guide at Tenryukyo Station and head to the rafting centre. Upon arrival you will be given time to change into the rafting gear and then listen to a safety briefing before being drive to the launching point for your 1.5 hour rafting course. Once done, you will be drive to your accommodation.|
|16:15||Check-in at your accommodation with time to unpack and have a quick ‘onsen’ (hot spring) / refresh after rafting.|
|17:00||Enjoy an early dinner at your hotel.|
|18:00||Walk the short distance to Tenryukyo Station and take the train to the Tokimata Fireworks Festival. You will arrive around 18:30 with the first fireworks set to burst into the sky around 19:00. After the fireworks are done, you will head back to Tenryukyo by train and back to your accommodation.|
|21:30||Arrive at your accommodation where your guide will say goodnight and the first day comes to an end.|
|Day2/10:00||Enjoy breakfast at your accommodation before your guide collects you at 10:00 to lead you on a short walk around Tenryu Gorge before heading to the launching point of your Rhine Kudari River Boat.|
|11:45||Depart the dock and enjoy a 50 minute river boat experience along Tenryu River to Karakasa dock. Once there you will board the local train at 13:00 for the scenic journey along the river to Nakaisamurai,|
|13:35||Arrive at Nakaisamurai Station where you will be met by a local tea farmer and led immediately to the tea fields where you will first enjoy a local ‘bento’ lunch before picking tea and brewing it yourself.|
|16:17||Depart Nakaisamurai Station and take the train back to Tenryukyo Station, where the tour concludes at 17:16 or onto Iida Station at 17:44.|
|17:20*||Tour concludes at Tenryukyo Station with the option of staying on the train onto Iida Station to end at 17:44.|
*Should you prefer to head toward Tokyo or Nagoya rather than return to Tenryukyo, you can do so by disembarking the train at Hiraoka Station and taking the connecting service onto Toyohashi Station and onto either of those cities. For more information, see our 'FAQ' below.
This tour operates from the following meetup point:
1 / TENRYUKYO STATION @ 12:30
The meetup point is at the entrance of Tenryukyo Station. It is a small station with only one entrance / exit so you should have no problem finding it. Please be there in advance of the tour departure time of 12:30.
- Accommodation at Ryukyoutei inc. Standard Japanese Room inc. on-floor ‘futon’ bedding along with dinner & breakfast
- Transport to / from all listed destinations
- English-speaking guide on both days
- Guided 1.5 hour river-rafting & attendance at the Tokimata Fireworks on Day 1
- Tenryu Rhine-Kudari river cruise & tea-picking experience on Day 2
- Lunch – locally-made ‘bento’ box – on Day 2
- Transports costs before or after the tour
- Alcohol & optional drinks at your accommodation
- Additional food, snacks & drinks
- The minimum age for participation in this tour is 6 years. This is a group tour, meaning that other guests may be joining on the day.
- This tour involves limited walking and is suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness. River-rafting also requires a reasonable level of fitness as the activity takes approximately 1.5 hours and follows at 13km course while tea-picking requires guests to walk through a working farm including steep inclines of a terraced farm. Should you have any concerns about your ability to undertake these activities, please contact us to discuss prior to booking.
- Due to the nature of this tour, it is not wheelchair accessible and may not be appropriate for mobility-impaired guests. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake, please contact us prior to booking to discuss.
- This tour uses public transport to move between destinations. All transport costs from the start of the tour until the end are included in the tour price.
- This tour includes accommodation at ‘Ryukyoutei’, a mid-range hot spring hotel in Tenryukyo. You will be allocated a Standard Japanese Room with on-floor ‘futon’ bedding.
- Your guide will not stay with your overnight. They will see you to your accommodation at the end of day one, help you to check-in and then say good evening. Should you have any questions or assistance from your guide, please make sure to speak to them before they leave you for the evening.
- This tour includes dinner on day 1 and breakfast on day 2 at your accommodation. It also includes lunch on day 2. Should you have any dietary requirements or allergies, please tell us prior to the start of your tour. We will communicate these to your accommodation and ask that they cater to your needs. We cannot guarantee that all requests can be accommodated but we will endeavour to do so.
- River-rafting is conducted by a local operator, ‘Runabout Rafting’. During rafting, that company is responsible for the activity. Your guide will accompany you for rafting but please listen to and follow the directions of your rafting instructor at all times.
- Prior to rafting, you instructor will provide a detailed safety briefing. Listen to this briefing carefully and should you have any questions or concerns, please raise these with your guide and / or the rafting instructor before starting the activity.
- For rafting, you will be provided with water boots, a life jacket and helmet. These must be worn at all times. You will also be provided the option of wearing a spray jacket or wetsuit.
- You will get wet during rafting therefore it’s best to bring clothes you can change in and out of for the activity. There are male and female changerooms at the rafting centre, which can be used before and after the activity.
- Should the weather be poor and we are advised that it is not safe to undertake rafting, we will contact you prior to the tour to discuss options including the possibility of an alternative activity.
- This tour is insured however all participants are still required to have travel insurance that covers rafting. Please check to your policy to confirm that rafting is covered prior to booking the tour.
- The Tenryu Rhine-Kudari cruise takes approximately 50-minutes. The boat is open to the public and can be crowded at certain times of year, especially October and November during the autumn leaves season. All guests are provided with a life jacket that must be worn at all times. We recommend also bringing a hat and sunscreen, especially when booking in summer i.e. from July until the end of September.
- Tea-picking in Nakaisamurai will be led by a local farmer and include the chance to pick your own leaves and brew them on site. The exact location at which tea-picking is conducted can vary depending on season. At the end of the activity, you will also receive a pack of Nakaisamurai tea to take with you.
- Lunch on day 2 is a ‘bento’ (premade lunch box) that will take provided upon arrival at the Nakaisamurai tea fields. Due to the remote location of the tea fields and lack of restaurants, lunch will be eaten outside. The bento is locally-made and of high-quality. We are confident you will enjoy it.
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(Travel Agency License No: Nagano 2-562)
Snow Monkey Resorts Tours
Nagano City Kurita 1015-7, NK Copo 202, Nagano, 380-0921 Japan
Member of All Nippon Travel Agents Association
Travel Service Supervisor: Tomoko Kasahara