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I love me an adventure.
Many of them — like riding around Mt Fuji on mamachari bikes, walking around Tokyo’s Yamanote loop line or inline skating through as many of Tokyo’s wards as possible in a single night — I like to capture and preserve as dedicated videos, but an adventure without proof is just as valuable an experience.
I’m now living in rural Kagoshima prefecture on Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island, and I’m surrounded by beautiful beaches, mountains and rivers.
Unlike Australians, Kagoshimans don’t really have much of a swimming culture and I’m always surprised to visit these incredible swimming spots and be the only one getting wet.
So it’s not really surprising that there’s no real effort to make local rivers accessible to people — you can see glimpses of the river from bridges and some roads have ramps that lead down to some of the shallow sections, but otherwise it’s a bit of a mission to get down to the water.
The Anraku is the closest river to me and I’ve often wondered how the river looks between the points — usually bridges — from where I’ve been lucky enough to see the crystal clear waters flowing towards the sea.
Just a week or so ago an idea popped into my head: I could get into the river and travel downstream.
But, summer was already over and it was starting to get cold. Maybe I missed my window of opportunity this year.
I talked about this idea with my wife and she suggested I do it that week… on one condition. “I want you to wear a life jacket.”
That seemed like a sensible request, but I didn’t have a life jacket. She then suggested I asked a teacher at my son’s kindergarten if I could borrow one from the ‘mountain school’ where they do kayaking and other water activities. Done.
So on Thursday last week I asked my wife to drive a few kilometres upstream and drop me off near a bridge. The plan was to work my way six kilometres downstream to the closest bridge and then walk the remainder home.
I was dressed in smart casual wear and carried only my waterproof action camera on a monopod and a few coins so I could get a drink at a vending machine.