The Crystal Clear Appeal of Shimanto River

What Makes the Shimanto River Special?

With headwaters flowing 196km (approx. 122 miles) from the heights of Mt. Irazu (1336m, 4383ft.) into the Pacific Ocean, the Shimanto River is one of Japan’s last remaining limpid streams. With almost no dams and few river embankments along its route, visitors can enjoy crystal clear waters and untouched natural scenery.

Canoeing along the Shimanto River
Canoeing along the Shimanto River

Over 200 species of wildlife thrive in and along the Shimanto River and its 35 tributaries, including ayu (sweetfish), dace, freshwater shrimp and eel. Get a closer look at this river teeming with life by canoe, raft or on foot.

A low water crossing with field mustard flowers in the foreground
A low water crossing with field mustard flowers in the foreground

You can also admire this majestic river from the comfort of local pleasure cruises and trains. The river’s 26 low water crossings are part of its scenic charm and often serve as filming locations for TV and movies.

Canoeing – Let a River Run Through You

Canoeing lets you become one with a river
Canoeing lets you become one with a river

Canoeing is the most popular activity along the Shimanto River. With the blue sky above, lush green on either side, and the river bottom visible through its perfectly clear waters, this is a canoeist’s dream. Local business Canoe House offers full day, half day, and short canoeing courses. Even beginners can enjoy a calm flow from Ekawasaki to Nakamura. Further upstream offers faster-paced thrills.

If rowing your own boat is a terrifying prospect, rafting may be for you. This group activity is led by an instructor who helps navigate the river’s rapids. Many local companies, including Canoe House, offer rafting tours.

Canoe House

*All activities require advance booking. Inquiries accepted in English.

Shimanto River Activities To Meet Your Speed

Pleasure cruise and low water crossing
Pleasure cruise and low water crossing

Even for non-outdoor types, the Shimanto River has something in store. You can enjoy the river at a comfortable (and dry) distance on a pleasure cruise. Forget the worries of daily life as you leisurely drift along with a gentle breeze and birds singing. Why not take in the scenery at your own pace by bicycle? Canoe House provides rentals. Hop on the JR Yodo train line, which links Shimanto City and Uwajima in Ehime Prefecture, and you’ll run alongside a section of the river with a clear view from the window. Three unique models of sightseeing train operate on this route.

Trek up the varied terrain of a mountain stream
Trek up the varied terrain of a mountain stream

Want to immerse yourself more deeply? Summer is the best time to get into the Shimanto waters directly. Go on a snorkeling excursion to get a close-up view of the river’s diverse sea life. Or take it to the next level with a helmet and life jacket for a shower climbing adventure. Tours available.

Shimanto River shower climbing

*Inquiries in English accepted:

Places Worth Visiting Around the Shimanto River

The Kaiyodo Hobby Museum Shimanto
The Kaiyodo Hobby Museum Shimanto

The Shimanto River region has plenty of places worth checking out when you want to take a break from the water. Believe it or not, there’s even something for anime and plastic model geeks! The Kaiyodo Hobby Museum has a collection of more than 5000 items, ranging from dinosaurs to anime figures, some of them displayed on incredibly detailed dioramas.

Only in Japan would you find a park dedicated to dragonflies. Shimanto’s “Dragonfly Kingdom” is a sanctuary for over 70 species exist in Koichi, attracted to the prefecture’s year-round flower varieties. Want to pick up some “omiyage” (souvenirs)? Look no further than Sunriver Shimanto, where you can find a wide array of local items. Restaurants on the premises serve locally-sourced fish and veggies.

Salt-broiled ayu (sweetfish)
Salt-broiled ayu (sweetfish)

Indeed, Shimanto cuisine is based around the gifts of its namesake river. Ayu (sweetfish) is deliciously in season from June to October, commonly salt-broiled or deep-fried as tempura. Freshwater eel “kabayaki” (dipped in sweet soy sauce and broiled on a grill) is also a popular dish. Add some green with “aosa” (sea lettuce), served as tempura and used in soup recipes.