A little context from C&K‘s 2011 issue of Whitewater, now available on newsstands: “Lowdown: Cody Howard and company return for unfinished business from 2009's The Risen Sun, hoping to knock off some firsts near Minikami, north-central Japan's creekboating hub, as well as help the local paddling community's rebuilding efforts following the devastating March earthquake and tsunami.”


Photos by Darin McQuoid

Dispatch from the team:

We are halfway through our trip and everyone agrees: Japan has amazing whitewater!!  After our initial chase of granite slides and falls in the south we turned north to meet up with Lincoln from local outfitter Green Discovery. Arriving at the Tonegawa River, we put on one of the best big-water play runs ever.

“This is the type of run you travel halfway around the world for … oh wait, we did!” McQuoid said, noting what a pleasant surprise it was to find a slice of B.C.-meets-India big water. The hole rides and surfs got us pumped to find more gems farther north.

But first, we had to tackle the second component of our Japan Expedition: providing humanitarian relief efforts in the tsunami/earthquake disaster zone. We arrived at a volunteer center to find buses full of people leaving for the coast clothed in waterproof suits and boots. We grabbed some essential gear and and hopped in, off to the impact zone. We spent our time in the wreckage, cleaning up massive amounts of styrofoam so that it could be recycled as insulation, and so a local school bus ride would be free of wreckage for the area kids. The amount of devastation is overwhelming, even after two months with people working around the clock to clean it up. Humbled by the sights and work, we headed back in to the hills to camp along the beach and explore whitewater on the far northern end of the main island. The team is feeling good and everyone is getting in a fair share of culture and massive boofs—err, must-make 50-foot boofs!  (stay tuned to CanoeKayak.com for more updates to come).