While visiting Kyoto, you can't miss the Arashiyama area, which is home to the bamboo forest and one of the area's most scenic Kyoto river cruises. The Hozugawa River Boat Ride (Hozugawa Kudari) is a popular 2-hour, 16km cruise past cherry blossoms in spring and stunning autumn foliage in fall.

The Hozugawa River Boat Ride's 400 Years of History

Ruled by Akechi Mitsuhide, the former mountain castle town of Kameoka is located to the northwest of Kyoto. About an 8-minute walk from JR Kameoka Station is the boarding area for the Hozugawa River Boat Ride.

▲The boarding area located near Hozugawa equipped with 100 free parking spaces

The history of the Hozugawa River Boat Ride is old. In 1606, it was developed as an industrial waterway by a wealthy merchant of Kyoto, Suminokura Ryoi. It was used to deliver goods such as lumber, firewood, and charcoal to the capital from Tanba Province.
After the invention of railways and cars, the delivery methods have changed; however, the Hozugawa Kudari continues in the form of a tourist attraction for people to enjoy the beautiful valley throughout the four seasons.

▲Image of lumber combined into a raft for transportation during the Taisho period (Kyoto Institute, Library and Archives)

For the Hozugawa Kudari, they use a 16 passenger flatboat. On the Hozugawa River Boat Ride, a three-person crew navigates the boat through the river with rapids and big rocks. Watching the team skillfully navigate the ship with long bamboo sticks is one of the highlights.

▲Some areas along the way have lots of water splashing

▲Boatman Hiroshi Kawarabayashi, a 20 year veteran

Kameoka local, boatman Hiroshi Kawarabayashi said, “I wanted to work at a place with history in my hometown” and quit his office job and to join his current trade. He is a veteran now with more than 20 years of experience; however, he is still a mid-level boatman.
He explained that “to become a fully-fledged boatman, it takes about ten years of experience not only handling the ship but learning the river and its changes throughout the seasons.”
Conserving and repairing the river and riverbank is an essential task for the boatmen. Also, with an increase of foreign customers, they have been studying English and Chinese.

▲Hozu Valley, where the river flows between steep mountain sides

During the spring, with its cherry blossoms in bloom, and autumn, with its gorgeous colored leaves, there are days when over 100 boats embark, and it all requires a lot of endurance. Mr. Kawarabayashi told us, “surrounded by nature, and 400 years of history, it is our duty as boatman to ensure that everyone on the boat is enjoying the whole experience.”

▲Going downstream through Hozu Vally looking at the autumn foliage

▲Enclosed, heated and floor seat boats are used from mid-December to March 9th. The snow-covered view has its own unique beauty.

Going to Arashiyama!

Hozugawa River Boat Rides start from 9:00 AM and costs 4,100 yen for adults and 2,700 yen for children four years of age to elementary school students (tax included for both prices). We arrived first thing in the morning, but there was already a…

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