A Day Cruising Hozugawa

A Snack Boat on Hozugawa
Kotogase Chaya Snack Boat on Hozugawa in Kyoto

保津川 Hozugawa is hairpin of a river that runs from west to east, connecting Kameoka and Arashiyama in Kyoto. The ravine that Hozugawa carves through is known for its boulders and seasonal colors - from cherry blossom in the spring to red fall foliage. There are many ways to enjoy the scenery - without hiking - making it a easy day trip from Kyoto.

Sagano Scenic Railway
Sagano Scenic Railway

The “fastest” way to see everything is by boarding 嵯峨野トロッコ列車 Sagano Torokko Ressha. The Japanese name literally means Sagano Truck Train, which refers to the freight hauling train cars that once run on the same route. Nowadays, Sagano Torokko Ressha is a gentle passenger train. It runs about 25 kilometer per hour, which is slightly faster than cycling, for people to take in the view to their hearts' content. Its official English name is Sagano Romantic Train.

From トロッコ亀岡駅 Torokko Kameoka Station, it is about an half hour walk to 保津川下り Hozugawa River Boat Ride. Or you can hop on one of 京馬車 Kyobasha horse drawn carriages. They are there waiting for you at the train station when your train arrives and get you there right on time for your boat ride. This was the first time I have seen horse drawn carriages in Japan. So of course, I'm going with Kyobasha.


保津川下り Hozugawa River Boat Ride takes you down stream only. So you can only go from Kameoka to Arashiyama. The boats do not run on engines. They are each operated by two people. One person would be steering with a giant orb, while the other would use a long bamboo stick to prevent the boat from running into rocks. The rest is all "hydropower". As the boat skims down the river, the crew would also act as tour guides. They point out oddly shaped boulders and make jokes along the way. 

One of my crew claimed that he could talk to ducks. He turned to some ducks swimming nearby and said “Come on! Come on!” (Duck in Japanese is かも kamo.)

Hozugawa River Boat Ride
Hozugawa River Boat Ride

Hozugawa River Boat
Hozugawa River Boat

As we approached Arashiyama, the whitewater rapid became as serene as a lake. Waiting there for us was a snack boat from 琴ヶ瀬茶屋 Kotogase Chaya! Kotogase Chaya is a riverside tea house that is over a hundred years old. Their snack boat sold everything you would want to eat after an exhilarating boat ride. There were oden, grilled squid, chips, and even Pocky sticks. It was such sweet way to end the cruise!

Hozugawa Snack Boat
Kotogase Chaya Snack Boat on Hozugawa



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