The Tatami Walls of Nagataro
June is a great month for getting out and exploring some unfrequented spots within easy reach of Tokyo before the pervasive summer heat sets in. This entry introduces Nagatoro-machi 長瀞町 an attractive riverside town on the banks of the Arakawa River. Accessing the township takes 20 minutes from Ohanabatake to Nagatoro Station 長瀞駅 along the Chichibu Main Line. Nagatoro’s main draw card is river boating down the upper reaches of the Arakawa River. Known locally as Nagatoro Rhine Kudari 長瀞ライン下り it involves boatmen steering traditional longboats using a single wooden pole over varying rapids. The town lays adjacent to the Nagatorotamayodo Prefectural Natural Park 長瀞玉淀自然公園 making it an ideal location for outdoor pursuits. Along the riverbank you also find the precipitous Nagatoro no Iwadatami 長瀞の岩畳 cliffs so named as they have some resemblance to a tatami mat floor.
Our first point of call was visiting the Hodosan Shrine 宝登山神社 which is located 800 meters along the main road from the station. The Shrine dates back to the 1900s and sits well in its surroundings allowing your thoughts to easily divagate into quiet contemplation. With lunch time approaching it was time to head back to the Arakawa River where the inclement weather meant we could score one of the wooden gazebos perched high above the river. In the afternoon we continued walking along the river reaching almost Kaminagatoro Station before being driven back by rain. This walking trail also provided a choice location to watch some not eloquent white water rafting groups wrestling each other into the river. I definitely recommend heading to Nagatoro for a day outing and if you wish to sign up for one of the river boating trips they run from March to December.