Get your heart pumping with world-class skiing, rafting, and adventure
Last updated: July 29, 2021
Gunma’s towering mountains, clear lakes, and fast-flowing rivers make the area the perfect playground for adventurers. In winter, its deep powder snow attracts skiers and snowboarders from around the world. In warmer months, mountain climbing, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, canoeing, and canyoning keep adrenaline levels high. From the exhilarating to the more laid back, Gunma offers plenty of outdoor adventure in every season.
Gunma is home to some of the best skiing in Japan. It is the closest prefecture to Tokyo with Japan’s legendary powder snow, sometimes affectionately called “Japow.” The high elevation of Marunuma Kogen Ski Area on Mt. Nikko-Shirane gives it some of the region’s best snow and one of the longest seasons. Advanced skiers and snowboarders can try backcountry skiing and riding at Tanigawadake Tenjindaira Ski Resort, which has a season that runs from December to May. For those looking for less intense thrills, try snowshoeing, sledding, tubing, or snowmobiling at Minakami Kogen Ski Resort and other comprehensive winter resorts.
Rappel down cliffs and waterfalls and negotiate your way through canyons, crevices, and streams with Canyons Ltd. Experienced guides will give you the guidance, tools, and skills you need to master the sport. There are multiple tours through various canyons in Minakami, and each is ranked to show its difficulty. Most of your time canyoning is spent in the water, making it a great way to explore some of the area’s natural attractions on steamy summer days.
To add to the thrill, pair the experience with a rafting tour or a night of glamping.
Craggy mountains, cobalt-colored lakes, and expansive marshland provide the backdrop for some of Gunma’s prettiest trails. Hiking in Gunma includes trips ranging from scenic, family-friendly walks to challenging climbs up steep rock faces. Those looking for a technical trek should head for Mt. Myogi, which has chains and ladders to help climbers navigate its narrow ridges and sheer rock faces. Beginners can hike the mountain too: there are trails to suit every level.
If scaling towering peaks sounds too intense, try a leisurely hike instead. Ozegahara is a scenic walk. This flat path along wide boardwalks elevated slightly above the marshland can easily be extended to a full-day hike. It is a popular trail from spring through to autumn. Alternatively, opt for a scenic hike at Mt. Akagi, which can be enjoyed all year round.
The fast-flowing Tone River is one of Japan’s top whitewater rafting destinations and is known globally by rafting enthusiasts. The mountains’ snowmelt swells the river in spring, creating the perfect conditions for more intense rapids. In summer, the conditions are calmer, making rafting more accessible to less confident rafters. Choose from half- or full-day tours from Canyons Ltd. and other operators Minakami, Shibukawa, and Numata.
Try stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking for a more serene way to spend time on the water. Head to the Shima area to canoe or stand-up paddleboard on the cobalt-colored water of Lake Shima and Lake Okushima.
The clear waters of Lake Sugenuma in Nikko National Park and Lake Naramata or Lake Akaya in Minakami are other popular destinations for stand-up paddleboarding.