By Paul Walsh
Kubota-san has run this sea-kayak tour business, "Paddle Park" since 1996. It is located just across the water from Hiroshima's most famous sightseeing spot, Miyajima island.
The Paddle Park offers half day and full day tours not only to Miyajima, but to other nearby beaches and interesting paddling spots.
However, if you have your heart set on paddling under the Torii gate, it depends on the tides each season, so make sure you ask about the best time when you make your booking.
The sea-kayaks and paddling gear are all of the highest calibre and the Paddle Park shop is also filled with gear if you want to buy your own.
Kubota-san is a very friendly guy who is a great tour and paddling guide. Weekends and summer holidays are the busiest times of year, but he is open throughout the week if you want to book a tour or lesson without a long wait.
The Paddle park has a good website and blog (japanese) and new information about upcoming tours and information on an English page. The website also shows pictures from their latest tours as well as shop information, sales and tour information.
Most full day tours are around ¥10,000 per adult and ¥7,500 per child of junior high school age or older. Other special tours further away cost a bit more. Most full day tours include a meal and a snack. Half day tours are ¥6,000 for adults and ¥4,000 for junior high school aged kids and older.
Lessons include an introduction as well as work on specific skills as well as lessons for younger kids who are interested in kayaking- these are held from July to the end of August on Miyajima's main beach- Tsutsumigaura.
It was an amazing experience being out on the open water enjoying views of Miyajima island while getting some exercise and feeling meditative. It was wonderfully calming with the quiet sounds of waves lapping up on the boat and the paddle cutting through the water.
We had chosen the half day tour and although the weather wasn't great, we still had a great experience. As we arrived at low tide to the island of Miyajima, we couldn't paddle under the tori gate, but instead landed on the beach surrounding it.
The beach was lively and full of people digging in the sand. We walked with the guide over to a charming little coffee shop on the island and enjoyed a cup of tea and a chat before heading back. I would love to go again on a longer paddling tour that included lunch if we have the chance. Neither of us are experienced paddlers, but we were able to take in a quick lesson and enjoy the paddling tour. I would highly recommend it.
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I've been living in Hiroshima since the mid 90's & still discovering new things to enjoy. I'm a big fan of both the old "wabi sabi" as well as modern and new designs, Japan offers both of these type of places to explore and enjoy. Even after many years here, I am still discovering surprising, fantastic and wacky things about this strange and wonderful land. I hope you enjoy your adventures around Japan- feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about traveling with kids, vegetarian dining or anything specific to Hiroshima.