Harrow International School Beijing
Travelers: Teachers Carol Yeung, Sharon Ringrose and Nick Rickford, and 23 sixth form students (Years 12 and 13)
Destination: Minakami, Japan
Dates: September 21-28, 2013
Travel plans: The group flew from Beijing to Nagoya with Etihad Airways. They then made the six-hour trip to Minakami by coach. The group stayed at Blue Monkey Lodge and Alpine Lodge, the accommodations owned by Canyons, the outdoor holiday company that organized the trip.
Cost: The school’s tailor-made program cost approximately RMB 10,000 per person. Visas were around RMB 1,000 for Chinese passport holders and free for most other nationalities. Prices for other outdoor packages can be found at www.canyons.jp/en.
We traveled with a group of 23 students to Minakami, a beautiful, clean, and friendly town on Japan’s largest island, Honshu. We took part in a host of outdoor activities, including canyoning (using various techniques to travel through canyons), canoeing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and geocaching, which is essentially a treasure hunt where the students navigate themselves through GPS.
The organizer, Canyons, ran the trip very professionally and everything went smoothly from start to finish. Safety was a priority; even though we tried a lot of different sports, we were briefed and well-equipped by the competent staff.
The students all had a fantastic time. Here are some of their
reviews of the trip:
“The thing I enjoyed the most would have to be canyoning, particularly as I wasn’t entirely sure what this was and it was really fun to try. Secondly, I really enjoyed canoeing as this is something I have long been fond of but hadn’t had a chance [to do]in a while. I also really enjoyed the barbecue night and the large amounts of meat we cooked!” – Jim
“Canyoning, mountain biking, and rafting were the three things we enjoyed the most during the Japan expedition. Not only were they were fun, but we also had chance to challenge ourselves.” – Billy and Ivy
“The three things that I most enjoyed were (1) pulling Ms. Yeung into the river, (2) jumping from a 5m-high cliff into the water, and (3) playing pool with friends.” – Felix
“It was the most enjoyable of all the expeditions we have done in previous years (Years 8-11) and other sixth form [trips]. It allowed us to do some extreme sports without our parents nagging us about it. You can also buy ‘Made in Japan’ stuff in supermarkets and the airport that was cheaper and better-quality [than in China].” – Jessie
More importantly, many of the students overcame personal barriers to complete the outdoor activities. Many of them challenged themselves by jumping into the water from high rocks, navigating around waterfalls, and hiking through difficult terrain.
“It was so scary to fall down from the 20m-high waterfall, but the guide told me that he was holding a rope and so I tried.” – Yukika
“For me it was a challenge going down hills while hiking. During the last expedition, I fell really hard downhill and twisted my ankle. This time I succeeded.” – Dorothy
“I used to be afraid of cold water. After this trip, I felt much more confident.” – Yang
For some however, the challenges were not of the outdoor variety. According to Jim: “I was most challenged when it came to eating our katsu curry mega-portions. Unfortunately I can’t say I overcame it, but it was delicious even in failure.”
Japan is a very safe country for travelers and this trip is perfect for families with teenagers.
The best time for canyoning is from June to September, when the weather is warm and the water is not too cold.
The area around Minakami is also very famous for its hot springs, so you might consider building this into your trip.
The six-hour journey from Nagoya airport to Minakami was a little long for the students. You can cut this in half by flying to either of the Tokyo airports (Narita or Haneda) instead.
photo courtesy of Harrow
This article originally appeared on p38-39 of the beijingkids December 2013 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com