Prior to moving, I had visited Tokyo on four separate occasions and had no idea that exploring the city by kayak was even an option. Recently, I was craving a kayaking trip like pregnant women crave different foods. Being an island and all, Japan is surrounded by water so surely I’d be able to be able to rent a kayak somewhere. As it turns out, I didn’t even need to go to the coast. I could go kayaking right in the city.
Tokyo Great Kayaking Tour is a small business in Chuo-ku, Tokyo that runs kayaking, cycling, and running tours around the city. On the day of my tour, I was greeted with overcast skies, calm waters, and a small group consisting o myself, one Japanese guy, a girl from Scotland, and two guides.
Before heading out, the guides spent about 5-10 minutes explaining the basics of navigating the kayak in the water in a way that wouldn’t strain your arms and shoulders and rules of the water like how you should always stay to the right to let bigger boats pass. Guests are allowed to move at their own pace, and as you go, the guides provide tips on how to move smoother on the water. We kayaked along the Ooyokogawa River and part of the Sumida River which was a bit choppier but a more of an adrenaline rush. About halfway through the trip, we stopped and ate snacks (senbei crackers, sweets, and bottled water) together as a group on the water. Overall, it was just a really lovely outing.
In Japan, many companies will bend over backwards to ensure customers have the best experience possible. This can often come at the expense of employees being overly polite and not very personable. It can feel like they are trying to keep you at a distance, but at TGKT, I felt like an equal. After the tour, the guides and guests sat around the office, watching sumo, and got to know one another over drinks and good conversation. Everybody had a good sense of humor, warm personalities, and openness for learning about different cultures.
I’ve done my fair share of day tours and activities around the world but not all of them blow me away enough to warrant a blog post. TGKT runs a great business, and kayaking through Tokyo’s canals and rivers is such a unique way to see the city without all the foot traffic.
What to Bring
- Clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting wet
- A change of clothes
- Camera with waterproof case
- Sunscreen and bug repellent (they have some at the office but it never hurts to bring your own)