Before living in Tokyo, canyoning, like sky diving, was not something I'd consider a must do before I die. I'd never even heard of it but later found out that canyoning is like rafting; instead of everyone floating on a raft, it involves walking and swimming through fast streams, navigating through canyons and jumping off waterfalls. During one of our last weekends together before everyone headed back to their home country, my friends in Tokyo wanted to do something thrilling and this was their answer. Since my notion of a physical challenge used to be wrestling girls at a Neiman Marcus Last Call ("That Gucci bag is mine, skinny white bitch!"), the idea of canyoning did not thrill me at all. I gave it a go anyway and to my surprise, I was really glad I went through with it…and survived to tell about it.
The ten of us had to meet in the lobby of our apartment building at 8am to catch the 2-hour-long train to Minakami for our full-day canyoning tour. I almost didn’t make it as I was out the night before until 5am. When we finally arrived, we were greeted by our tour guide – an overly excited stocky white guy from New Zealand in his late 30’s with long blond dreads and sun damaged skin who speaks fluent Japanese with a New Zealand accent. After we squeezed into our wetsuits, our tour guide led us through an hour of canyons and freezing cold streams before approaching our very first jump…off a 20-feet waterfall. No joke – 20 feet and no baby waterfalls to ease us in!!! That’s almost as tall as a 3-story building – which I know may not sound so intimidating but imagine looking down a steep waterfall and realizing that seconds later you’ll be free falling and potentially plunging to your death. I was scared sh*tless but volunteered to jump second right after my friend Tommy since I wanted to get my death over with as quickly as possible. With my eyes open and my nose held shut, I took the plunge. It was one of the most, if not THE most, amazing and thrilling experiences I’ve ever had. After a few hours and more terrifying waterfall jumps, the adventure finally ended. Would I do it again? HELL NO!!! But I would highly recommend it to anyone to try it once in their lifetime.