A photo essay by Darin McQuoid

Most Americans envision Japan as a super modern, high-tech country, which it is in the cities. Outside of metropolitan areas, Japan is more rural than the States. In the countryside we rarely saw people our own age, as almost all the younger generations have moved to the cities for work. Out here life revolves around the rice paddies and Onsens (hot springs).
Just a few hours outside of Tokyo, Nishizawa Canyon of the Fuefukigawa is famous for fall colors but for international paddlers it's quickly becoming Japan's marque river. Paddler: Shannamar Dewey
The small town Kyotsu is the finish of the Kyotsugawa. With hot-springs and delicious dumplings it quickly won our hearts. Person: Darin McQuoid Photo: Shannamar Dewey
Rok Sribar runs a tricky falls on the Fuefukigawa that dished out several big hits and three swims.
There are only a few campgrounds in Japan, and we didn't stay at any of them. Thankfully the language barrier combined with Japanese politeness made it possible to camp almost anywhere.
Rok Sribar - Agatsuma Gawa
We were driving around trying to decide what river to do when Yoshi picked up a brochure with a picture of a waterfall. We drove through rice fields and eventually found the Kamagawa, a short beautiful run of seven pools and amazing gorge walls. Paddler: Yoshi Takahashi
David Maurier hikes up to the road on the Shimagawa, a short run sandwiched between two dams. The fastest way to run shuttle is to simply walk back to the put-in. With emerald blue water and a perfect fifteen foot falls, it makes you wonder what's under the lakes.
We were all suspect at the idea of river boarding class V, but fellow whitewater enthusiast Josh Galt blew our suspicions out of the water when we joined us for a week in Japan.
Since Cody Howard told me paddling under snow bridges on the Kyotsu Canyon I'd dreamed of running the canyon. Yoshi Takahashi heads into one that was over a hundred yards long and only four feet above the water.
In transition - Shannamar Dewey
Shannamar Dewey - Fuefuki Gawa (Nishizawa Canyon)
For a video shot we asked the van to drive through this picturesque town. We all laughed as the van managed to take four different routes through this town, yet never actually taking the road combination we wanted, showing there are many paths to a destination.

Contributing photographer Darin McQuoid‘s shot of Rok Sribaron paddling down the pristine teacup waterfalls of Japan’s Nishizawa Canyon holds down a page in the Gallery of our December issue, available on newsstands now. Here the Northern California lensman takes us on visual journey with some more details from his July return expedition to Japan. Filmmaker Daniel Brasuell was also on hand to record the action, his video work can be found here at A Wet

Click HERE to see more of McQuoid’s 2011 trip of paddling and helping with the disaster relief efforts following the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.