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So, this past weekend was a three day weekend for some reason, and Shauna, Ken and I all went Canyoning in Minakami. Canyoning is basically sliding, jumping, and falling down the natural waterslides and waterfalls carved into the canyons over time. Gunma is lucky because we have a really cool group called Canyons based in the prefecture that does all sorts of cool, outdoorsy stuff, as well as a cool Gunma JET group that finds and organizes outings like this.

Canyons is awesome; for a really decent amount of money they’ll take you for half day canyoning trips, rent you the equipment and guide you, throw a bbq, and give you a place to sleep. I was really impressed by them, and everyone was really nice, so I know it’ll be a place I go back to for more fun weekends!

Our day started on Sunday morning, after an already fun and somewhat wild Friday night. We headed out to Takasaki station early to get some breakfast and snacks, then took the hour-long train to Minakami. The train ride was gorgeous; as we climbed higher in the mountains I realized once again how awesome my placement was… all this was less than an hour away!

Arriving in Minakami, we went to a local place to grab a bite to eat (I will never get tired of curry!), and then got picked up by Canyons with the rest of our rather large group. They got us briefed and geared up in record time!

Ahh, pretty!

We couldn’t very well take our cameras with us since we’d be thoroughly soaked. However, one of the guys had a waterproof camera, and as I took a few of these pictures myself, I don’t think he’ll mind me putting them up here. I’ve chosen my favorites, there are more here!

But first, a picture of us girls all geared up in the locker room beforehand! Only about half are paying attention…

On the way to the falls in all our gear XD

Teaching us the proper way to do it…

This was the biggest waterfall and the first we went over. It was fun but made everyone a little nervous!

This waterfall we spent a long time at to jump and slide off over and over again. I jumped it three times I think, plus going over the first time!

Me in the freezing water at the end of it all. Whee! I went headfirst over the waterfall in the background. It was awesome XD

You can also see the canyon we went to on Canyons forum here. We did that run except the rope swing across the big canyon.

There were four guides, all from Australia or New Zealand who were hilarious! They kept egging us all on, not that a few of our group needed it! By the end I was tired of jumping off waterfalls, and the water was freezing as well, but I had an awesome time!

After getting back and showering off, we had our bbq grill (yum) and then partied for the rest of the evening. It was actually a pretty early evening since everyone was pretty exhausted from the day.

The Monday morning bus left at 10am to take us back to the station, but our group wasn’t entirely ready to head home yet. The bartender at Canyons who knew Fujioka and the old JETs from a few years back recommended we try for a “rope way” around the Tanigawadake mountains to Tenjindaira, which sounded fun. It turned out to take the whole day, since this “rope way” was actually a full-fledged gondola, and there was quite a crowd to get on it! The ride to the mountain was really pretty! We had fun looking around, and then decided to take a trail to see if it would take us to the top instead of the second ski-lift.

Hi Shauna!

Fall colors were starting to come out, making it a really beautiful (if chilly) time!

This picture especially shows the red. I’m exited… my first real fall!

Turns out that path took us to the top of the adjacent mountain entirely… but we only went half-way there. None of us were in proper hiking shoes, the trail was muddy, and we were all getting tired. The late start didn’t help, so we turned back and decided it would be an awesome hike to do another day!

The very green bit to the left is where we would have been heading if we had continued. There is a tiny little hut you may be able to see in the distance, as well as red torii gates.

Another view; no way were we going all the way down and then back up!

Dude, seriously, what’s with the weird looks everytime I snap a picture! Also, Hi Brian!

Some bits of the trail looked like this…

Some parts weren’t too bad, though it was a tight squeeze for walking past people on their way down

And some of it looked more like a mudslide than a trail… and considering I was in slippers and not even tennis shoes, that wasn’t good.

But it was definitely worth going even that far.

So pretty!

Went back down the mountain, took the train ride back, ate, then fell into bed. Altogether, it was an awesome weekend… but tiring! Going back to school Tuesday morning was quite a chore! This coming weekend will be toned down a bit, though I have a few things planned… hopefully laundry will be part of that plan as well!