Kayaking in Urabandai

I had an amazing time trying out kayaking on Lake Sohara, Urabandai! Lake Sohara is one of many gorgeous areas in Urabandai included in Bandai Asahi National Park.

Urabandai is a great area of Fukushima for trying out water sports in the summer, and is also ideal for both hikers and cyclists in the spring, summer and autumn. I love spending a day in the mountains, so I was so excited for our trip.

 

Learning the Basics

I had only tried kayaking once before, so I was very glad to have Watanabe san – our guide for the day – with us to explain the basics of kayaking.

Sohara ko lake kayaking urabandai fukushima kayak (13)

He walked us through the correct way to hold the paddle, the technique necessary for moving forward and backward in the water efficiently, how to stop, and what to do in the very unlikely situation of capsizing!

Sohara ko lake kayaking urabandai fukushima kayak (14)

One thing that I didn’t know before this trip to Urabandai is that, when in a kayak, as long as you don’t move your head out over the side of the boat too far, you should be able to remain stable regardless of how much your body moves.

Knowing this, I felt pretty confident that I wouldn’t capsize the kayak. But I thought I’d leave my phone on the shore, just in case!

Sohara ko lake kayaking urabandai fukushima kayak (15)

Getting in the Water

My colleague and I were a little nervous getting into the kayaks, but Watanabe san followed us in the water in his own kayak, and reminded us of how to direct ourselves when we forgot the direction to move our oars or hit a big rock!

Sohara ko lake kayaking urabandai fukushima kayak (8)

I found it surprisingly easy to move around in the kayak, and even got some more advanced level tips from Watanabe san! However, during my time on the lake, I didn’t quite get the hang out of moving through the water horizontally – the final technique he was trying to teach me.

Sohara ko lake kayaking urabandai fukushima kayak (1)Sohara ko lake kayaking urabandai fukushima kayak (2)

My favourite part of the day was feeling confident enough on the kayak to paddle quite far out on the lake. I balanced the paddle on top of the kayak and gazed out at the trees and mountains around me, listening to the birds and the winds in the trees.

It was the most relaxed that I’ve felt in a long time, and I didn’t want the lesson to end!

Sohara ko lake kayaking urabandai fukushima kayak (6)

Access Lake Sohara

Lake Sohara is just one of the beautiful lakes in the Urabandai area of Fukushima Prefecture.

It’s a very picturesque area to explore by kayak or canoe. We went on quite a cloudy day, but on a brighter  day, this is the view of the mountains that you can expect to see.
Sohara ko lake kayaking urabandai fukushima kayak (10)

 

Try out Kayaking for Yourself

There are a number of different organisations that provide visitors with kayak and canoe lessons, so it is worth shopping around.

On this occasion, I tried out kayaking with Mokumoku Shizen Juku. This guide center mainly provides group kayak lessons, which include a tour of the lake by kayak, but depending on the season, you might end up getting a private lesson anyway!

They can also rent visitors kayaks for fixed time slots, so that those who feel comfortable getting on the lake with no instructor are free to do so!

They can only handle bookings and provide instructions in Japanese at the time, but if this is OK, feel free to contact them. Here is their website.

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