Gonokawa River Canoe Park Sakugi
Address: 116 Sakugicho Koyodo, Miyoshi, Hiroshima 728-0131
Gonokawa River is a Class A river that flows through Shimane and Hiroshima. Gonokawa River Canoe Park Sakugi offers varied programs to enjoy playing in the water including canoe, camping and playing in wetlands. The instructor, Fukuma, loves spending time outdoors. He teaches customers the grandeur of nature based on his own experience.
Along the National Route 375, there is a bright red, nacou-shaped sign saying “Gonokawa River Canoe Park Sakugi.” Here people can enjoy camping and playing in water in many ways including canoeing. The instructor, Fukuma, has loved spending time outdoors since he was young. Born in Sakugicho he entered a school in Kyoto and visited many uninhabited islands in Kansai, he has been close with nature. “After graduation I kept on going to fields and mountains to have a bonfire or drink under the night sky. It was nice. I could clear my mind.” he smiles. When he married a woman from Shobara city right next to Miyoshi, he came back to his hometown and found this facility was recruiting new staff, so he applied immediately. “I love going outdoors so this was perfect for me and I got to learn canoe quickly. You need to get a knack or it but it’s easy for anyone to try.” As he says, most of the people who visit the park have never canoed before. First step, they learn how to use a paddle on land which is important for rowing a canoe, and then set out to the river and practice paddling. To move forward it’s important not to move the paddle like scratching the surface of the water, but to catch the water with the blade on the tip. “It doesn’t require much athletic ability so some people get the knack quickly and others don’t. If you can’t get it you will just circle round and round which is also kind of fun though.” They practice in the still-water area where it’s shallow and water flows gently. Surrounded by green mountains, people can relax with cool wind stroking their cheeks and the murmuring of the water.
”Canoeing is fun, too, but the real attraction of the facility is that you can enjoy nature in various ways.” As Fukuma says, they have a campsite with a water supply, bathrooms and cooking stoves. They also have cottages with sunken hearths, so the facility is suitable for those who want to just have a barbecue and also for those who want to stay there. “A lot of people camp in summer, but actually camping in winter is becoming popular, too. It’s difficult if the snow stays around, but camping in the cool air before snowfall has been getting really popular. The air is fresh and there are no bugs. It’s suitable for a bonfire, too. The pretty starry sky in the winter is just another highlight.” They have cottages named after fish such as “Ayu” (sweetfish) and “Yamame” (landlocked salmon) which have genuine sunken hearths. They are available to rent in houses.
“Having hot pot on a sunken hearth is another way of enjoying this place in winter. You can just prepare the hot pot in the kitchen and then simply set it on the pot hanger over the sunken hearth. Charcoal is sold at the facility but you can bring your own if you want to. Sitting around the fire and having a hot pot together would be a special experience.” They also have a public bath called “Kumami Yu” right across the street, and customers who stay at a cottage can use it for free. “The bath has just opened recently, so the equipment is brand-new; it’s spacious and relaxing.” There is also a restaurant, “Mori no Fukurou” (Owls in a Forest) which is owned by the owner of an izakaya in Miyoshi city that offers light noodle dishes and set meals made with a lot of local ingredients. “If you stay, you can cook for yourself, but going to the restaurant for lunch would also be a nice idea. From the terrace seats customers can enjoy having a relaxing meal time with the view of Gonokawa River.”
Canoe Park Sakugi offers customers the chance to enjoy being there in various ways, the most crowded seasons are Golden Week and summer break. “The free waterpark area is popular with families. We piled rocks and made a slide. The best part is the last part where you fall into the water. We lend a board to sit on to prevent clothes from being torn. We also have a walking wetland plan only in summer that customers can stroll to the upper reaches of the river which takes 1 to 2 hours. We’d like customers to have a lot of different experiences by getting close to the water.” Yet playing in water can always be dangerous. All staff members pay great attention not to let any accident happen, but Fukuma also says he wants parents to watch their children carefully. “The slide lets you fall into a pool that has 120 cm depth, so we recommend only children who are tall enough. And walking wetland requires always wearing a life jacket. We’d like to be careful along with parents and have fun safely.” Most people who visit the park are canoeing beginners, but top athletes use their facility, too. Fukuma told us as if he just remembered, “Okazaki Haruka and Nanase are siblings who live in the next city, Akitakata and Haruka is a Japanese representative of “canoe slalom U23” and her brother, Nanase is a representative of the junior class of “canoe freestyle.” They enjoyed canoeing here when they were younger and got interested in becoming professional athletes, I heard. They still visit us sometimes and practice here and we support them a lot. Nature can be your friend but also a menace but avoiding water thoughtlessly just because it’s dangerous is not good either. We’d like children to learn how to avoid danger and enjoy playing in water.
Gonokawa River Canoe Parn, "Sakugi"
116 Sakugicho Koyodo, Miyoshi, Hiroshima 728-0131
11:00 am - 6:30 pm