Sunday, October 02, 2005

Shikoku Shinanigans

After school on Friday I headed to Kakogawa to crash at Lisa's house. Chris was going to drive us to Shikoku on Saturday for our rafting/canyoning extravaganza on Yoshino River.

Lisa, Chris, Martha, Fiona and I went to the best izakaya in Kakogawa. Perhaps the best izakaya I've been to - serious. It rocked. Karaage gobo, stick salad, ebi/shiso maki - too tasty! Back at Lisa's place I was also introduced to and fell in love with George Yamaguchi - Jamie's pet turtle aka 'the monster' curently residing in Lisa's apartment. George was so cute, Chris and I were crawling around Lisa's kitchen floor trying to take photos of him and stopping him from crawling under the fridge.

We left Kakogawa early Saturday morning and drove across Akashi Kaikyoku Bridge, through Awaji Island and then over another bridge to Shikoku. Fueled on oreos, onigiri sembei, Martha's fish sausage and energy drinks, we finally arrived in Kochi-ken. Shikoku is breath-taking. Stunning. Beautiful. Lush green moutains, valleys, freshwater rivers, clear skies - postcard quality scenery.

Yoshino River was amazing. It was a mesmorizing green colour and even more refreshing when floating down it. We met up with the rest of the gang at Oboke where Happy Raft was operating. Happy Raft is run by a fellow Aussie and his team who really look after you. Most of his staff, Japanese and non-Japanese work in Japan during the Summer and then work in Thailand, New Zealand, Nepal and other places during the Winter.

I was quite nervous about whitewater rafting, canyoning and what to expect because it was my first time, and although there were many times I thought I was going to die, it was an amazing, thrilling experience. First we got geared up like a bunch of gimps (it took us girls AGES to get into our wetsuits!), got driven up narrow, twisting mountain roads and then began our canyoning descent downwards. We slid down waterfalls, climbed behind waterfalls, flying fox-ed over waterfalls, abseiled (or got lowered) down waterfalls, jumped off rocks and cliffs into pools, spun around in washing machine currents, slid head first down a toilet flusher chute (which left me a nice, little bruise on my nose) and bascially made our way down the steep canyons of Oboke.

In a cave behind the waterfall

Our Gollum shot

Lincoln, one of our canyoning guides, used to live in Perth and still has family there - small world! Satoshi, the other guide, was this amazing Japanese guy who could leap over rocks like a mountain goat god.

Afterwards we (those in Chris' car) got lost but ended up in this awesome onsen hotel in the isolated Iya Valley. The hot baths, outdoor baths, salt sauna, weird silver cylindrical pressure point showers did wonders for our sore bodies. Back at the guest house in the middle of the mountain, we had a barbeque dinner. Cheers to Keiko for buying the food!

Our guest house in the middle of the mountain

Being a poser on Mike's bike

A few of us headed to the river where some of the Japanese Happy Raft guides were camping out. It was Satoshi's birthday and somehow they all ended up going for a midnight swim in the river! If I hadn't of already washed and blow dried my hair at the onsen I would have gone in, but with no towels to dry off with - no thank you. Only Chris, another Japanese girl and myself decided to stay warm and dry. Once the boxers came off and enough photos were taken, we decided to head back to the fire.

I don't know how we did it but we managed to get up early Sunday morning and again got gimped out and hit the river. The views were gorgeous - I can't stress it enough. Somehow I always seemed to be the one who got flung out of the raft and get stuck under it underwater. We had 4 rafts (15 of us and another Japanese group). Our Japanese raft guide was this hilarious, crazy nutter guy who was a splitting image of one of my ex-managers at Ohnamiya.
Classic lines from Ken;
"Let's enjoying surfing long time!"
"Sometime monkeys jiggy jiggy out over there, on top"

We went down the rapids, floated down the river, congo-lined down a mini rapid, pirated other rafts and other rafting companies including the Porn Pirate, jumped off rock cliffs (I was lame and didn't jump off the mega big one - mecha kowaii!!! but the one I jumped off gave me enough of an adrenaline rush and a sore ass) and had a lovely picnic lunch of bagels and an assortment of fillings including a yummy strawberry cream cheese spread.

I ended up accompanying Keiko back home so she wouldn't be driving by herself. Thanks Keiko - it was fun. Thanks heaps Chris for driving me there - Fighto-Fighto-Ganbare! I owe you dinner. Shout outs to Dan for organising!


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