When the heat and humidity begin it’s strangle hold on Tokyo—Minakami is the place to be in the Kanto area to for fresh air and refreshing outdoor activities, and perhaps the best weekend to be at this famous hot spring town at the foot of Mt. Tanigawa is May 31 to June 2 during the annual Minakami Outdoor Festival—known simply as Mofest.
Minakami is famous famous for clear, delicious water that flows from the surrounding peaks and is a mecca for adventure sports like rafting, canyoning, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and a plethora of other outdoor activities. The festival takes place on the banks of the clear, fast flowing Tone River.
Mofest attracts top athletes who show off their skills while participating in river and mountain-focused races. Spectators get to see some of the best international and Japanese adventure athletes compete in whitewater rafting, kayaking, slacklining, trials mountain biking events and demonstrations. Some of the races held at the festival will be qualifying rounds for national and international competitions.
There’s also plenty of fun for the average weekend warrior. Once you have your Mofest bracelet you can join an assortment of activities for all ages and abilities. Looking for an adrenaline rush? Jump into a kayaking or whitewater rafting tour with local outdoor operators, at discounted rates. The fun doesn’t stop after the sun sets behind the surrounding peaks. There’s live music, outdoor films, great food, and plenty of drinking spots in the classic onsengai area just a ten-minute walk away from the festival grounds.
Mofest has grown every year since its inception, and new activities and events are added to keep people coming back for more. One of the new events this year is a skyrunning race up to the scenic Naramata Dam—158 meters straight up the steps with a sprint across the top of the dam to an exciting finish. Need more entertainment? Don’t miss the frisbee-catching canines or a chance to shake your booty during the samba parade from the riverside venue up to the onsengai stage and beer garden.
Not a hardcore outdoor enthusiast? Not to worry, Mofest is family friendly and geared to anyone looking to get out of the big city for a day or two. Once you get a taste of Minakami you may want to make it a regular weekend getaway destination. It’s just a 75 minute bullet train from Tokyo and then a short local train or shuttle bus to the festival.
For more information on joining the fun, visit www.mofest.jp