The Tosa Reihoku Festival in Shikoku consists of a wide range of outdoor activities that are taking place until almost the end of the year. It is being held in the Reihoku area of northern Kochi Prefecture - a mountainous region renowned for its majestic natural scenery.
The Reihoku area comprises the towns of Tosa, Motoyama and Otoyo and the village of Okawa. It includes Sameura Dam - dubbed the Shikoku region's "water jug" - the crystal-clear Yoshino River and a portion of the Shikoku Mountains. The area provides the perfect setting for river-rafting, mountain trekking and canoeing.
Besides outdoor activities, the festival also celebrates the area's food and local culture. It kicked off on July 7 and runs until Dec. 25.
Montbell Co., a major outdoor equipment maker based in Osaka, has operated in the Reihoku area since the 1990s, organising events such as rafting tours.
To coincide with the start of the festival, the company opened Montbell Outdoor Village Motoyama, a multipurpose facility that includes cottages, hot baths and a shop selling the company's outdoor gear.
Using the facility as a base, visitors can raft or kayak on the Yoshino River, climb Mt. Shiraga and other mountains, and rent bicycles for a scenic ride, among other activities.
Rafting down the Yoshino River is especially popular. Happy Raft Co., which operates rafting tours mainly in Otoyo, has been receiving a large number of visitors each day who are eager to experience the cool feeling of navigating the river's rapids among sprays of white water.
The company also offers tours of calmer parts of the river, giving children of elementary school age and younger the chance to enjoy rafting. These courses are popular with families.
Seseragi-an, a tourism facility that was converted from a community hall, holds pizza-making workshops in which participants can bake pizza in stone ovens using locally grown vegetables.
In Tosa, an event called "Zekkei! Tanada Teppen Walking" (walking in scenic terraced rice fields) is being held until around mid-October. In the event, local farmers guide visitors to scenic spots in the town such as tanada - terraced rice fields - and flower fields. Reservations must be made in advance.
Meanwhile, Okawa is promoting cycling tourism that allows visitors to experience local customs and ways of life while cruising around on a bike. The village has the smallest population in Japan outside of those on remote islands.
An official in charge of promoting the festival said, "The Reihoku area is full of thrilling rapids, magnificent views and spots where you can feel the warmth of the forest. We hope visitors can enjoy a feeling of excitement and healing in this rich natural environment."
For more information, contact the Tosa Reihoku Festival promotion council at (0887) 72-9400.