Slide down waterfalls or ride the zip line through the canyons of western Tokyo

Adventurers participate in a Big Holy canyoning tour in the mountains of Okutama in the western part of Tokyo.


By THERON GODBOLD | Stars and Stripes | Published: January 28, 2021

A racing heart, a sickness in your belly as you close your eyes. Someone asks, “Are you ready?”

You shake your head yes; someone screams, “One, two, three!” and then a small push at your back. You feel weightless for a split second and then the water splashes around you.

This is what you may feel when canyoning in the mountains west of Yokota Air Base, home of U.S. Forces Japan.

Canyoneering, or canyoning, first started in the United States as a climber’s way of getting to more offbeat locales, according to an article from wasatchmag.com. It became a mainstream pastime in the late 1980s and early ‘90s after the publication of early guidebooks for canyoneering.

The concept of canyoning as a lighter activity and suitable for tourism began in Spain and France in the early ‘80s, according to canyoninginsardinia.com.

No matter how the sport began, or where, Canyons.jp does an outstanding job giving tours in the Tokyo area. It is a reservation-only adventure company whose mission is to “refresh the world through adventure experiences,” according to its website.

For the equivalent of about $85 per person, or $105 if you want a meal afterward, you can reserve a half-day excursion, which the company calls Big Holy, that will take you rappelling down waterfalls, ziplining and sliding on the bare rock itself.

After returning from the more than three-hour adventure, if you spent the extra $20, you will receive a meal at the on-site café.

The eight-person group size makes this trip, which is offered May through October, great for beginners as the wilderness-safety-trained guides have more time to spend with each person to guide them through the rough and slippery canyon that empties into the Nippara River near Okutama.

My guides spoke exceptional English, making any safety concerns with language barriers disappear.

Big Holy, the trip I took, has certain requirements. No one younger than 13 can participate, and if you have been drinking you will not be allowed on the trip and will be liable for any cancellation charges. Also, pregnant women cannot participate.

Canyons divides its tours into five levels, one being the easiest and five the hardest. Levels one through three are available to first timers, but you must complete a level three to participate in a four and a level four to participate in a five.

Big Holy is a level three, and after completing it I cannot wait to book my next level-four adventure.

Twitter: @GodboldTheron


Directions: Head west from Fussa Station to Highway 411. Stay on 411 for about 45 minutes. The Canyons base camp will be on the left. Free parking. Address: 198-0102, Tokyo, Nishi Okutama-gun, Okutama-machi, Kawai, 54-1. Google plus code is R54F+WC

Times: Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Costs: Tour packages range in price from about $85 to $105 per person.

Food: There is a café on site that serves a variety of Japanese dishes and drinks; the special is called the Volcano lunch, a pile of steamed rice wrapped in sliced beef with a raw egg and wasabi sauce drizzled on top.

Information: Phone: 278-722811; Online: canyons.jp

A Canyons tour guide gives a safety briefing before the zip line portion of a recent Big Holy adventure in western Tokyo.