Hokkaido Canoe Tripping Guidebooks

Posted on Jun 16, 2019
30 1
Posted on Jun 16, 2019
30 1
In the late 1990's through to the early 2000's, Japan experienced a boom in canoeing and kayaking. A number of guidebooks were published, focused on rivers not only in Hokkaido but all over Japan. Here, I've picked up on six guidebooks, all in Japanese, that cover rivers and lakes in Hokkaido known locally as perfect for canoe tripping. Much has changed on the rivers and lakes since they were published, and none of them are now in print. But they're a great start in getting ideas where to set one's sights on. Some can still be found in second hand book stores either online or in Sapporo City.

Last updated Jul 25, 2019

These are the resources that we’ve come across so far in our research about Hokkaido canoe tripping. If you know of any others, please let us know in the comments.


Hold up…a website is the first entry in a post about guidebooks? Yes. This is the most up to date, regularly updated Hokkaido river canoe tripping website that exists today. It’s all in Japanese, but the information is second to none. With well-annotated route files (downloadable via the Google Map links), this should be high on anyone’s list of Hokkaido river tripping resources. As an example, see the entry for Hokkaido’s longest trippable river, Teshio River, here.

北海道ののんびり下れる川の本 [The Book of Leisurely Hokkaido Rivers]

石本憲児 (2009). 『北海道ののんびり下れる川の本』. 札幌, 秀岳荘, no ISBN available.

Ishimoto, Kenji. (2009). Hokkaido no nonbiri kudareru kawa no hon [The Book of Leisurely Hokkaido Rivers]. Sapporo: Shugakuso

This is one of the last fully-featured Hokkaido river guidebooks that was ever created, and is still a classic. I’ve seen a few keen Hokkaido canoeists and kayakers gripping a tattered, dog-eared copy of this book, with underlines and highlighted sections. It was first published in 1991, with an updated version published in 2009. The book has detailed information on 35 river sections across Hokkaido. Unlike other guidebooks, this one focuses on the full navigable length of the rivers it covers, rather than simply individual sections. As such, most routes involve at least one overnight along the way. In early June of 2019, I dropped into Shugakuso, and asked if they had any copies. “You’re the luckiest man alive,” said the young clerk. “The author just came into the store yesterday with three copies of the book that he happened to find by chance in his house. They’re probably the last three new copies in existence.” Needless to say I snapped up a copy very quick!

Search online
Amazon.co.jp | Kosho.or.jp

Hokkaido Canoe Touring Book (北海道カヌーツーリングブック)

玉田美瑞穂 (1993). 『北海道カヌーツーリングブック』. 札幌, 北海道新聞社
Tamada, Mizuho. (1993). Hokkaido kanu turingu bukku [Hokkaido Canoe Touring Book]. Sapporo: Hokkaido Shimbun
ISBN: 4-89363-684-7

This is another book focusing solely on waterways in Hokkaido. This book also includes information on lakes in addition to rivers though, so will appeal to flatwater trippers too. This book covers 23 lake and pond routes, 51 river sections, and 8 sea touring routes. Like all of the books shown here, this book is now out of print. There was an updated version of the book published in 1998, but that is also out of print (scanned PDF version here). If you want a printed version of this book, then you’ll have to scour the internet for a second hand version. That is easier said than done – I managed to find one on kosho.or.jp (here’s the search page), but your mileage may vary.

Search online
Amazon.jp | Kosho.or.jp

北海道カヌーの遊び方ブック [Book About Hokkaido Canoe Recreation]

玉田美瑞穂 (1994). 『北海道カヌーの遊び方ブック』. 札幌, 北海道新聞社
Tamada, Mizuho. (1994). Hokkaido kanu no asobikata bukku [Book About Hokkaido Canoe Recreation]. Sapporo: Hokkaido Shimbun
ISBN: 4-89363-728-2

Tamada was obviously on a roll in the mid-90’s, publishing both the Canoe Touring Book above in 1993, this volume in 1994, and an updated version of the Canoe Touring Book in 1998. This particular guidebook curates some of the more popular and laid back lakes and river routes from the 1993 Canoe Touring Book, and adds some more leisure-related information such as fishing areas, geological information, and birdwatching advice. This book is now out of print.

Search online
Amazon.jp | Kosho.or.jp

日本の川地図 [Maps of Japan’s Rivers]

斎藤健一、矢野哲治 (1991). 『日本の川地図』. 東京, 小学館
Saito K., Yano, T. (1991). Nihon no kawachizu [Maps of Japan’s Rivers]. Tokyo: Shogakukan
ISBN: 4-09-104681-9

This guidebook of major rivers across all of Japan includes 12 rivers in Hokkaido, all classic and well-known as major rivers suited to canoe tripping. The authors break down each section of the river into difficulty, with easy to understand symbols. A nice book for cross-referencing with the Hokkaido-centric volumes above.

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Amazon.co.jp | Kosho.or.jp

全国リバーツーリング [Yamakei River Touring Map]

山本晃市(編) (2005). 『全国リバーツーリング 55Map』. 東京, 山と渓谷
Yamamoto Koichi (Ed.) (2005). Zenkoku riba turingu 55Map [River Tripping in Japan 55Map]. Tokyo: Yama to Keikoku
ISBN: 4-635-50025-X

This is another quality guidebook of 55 major rivers across Japan, and includes 16 Hokkaido rivers. It is published by one of Japan’s oldest and most respected outdoor publishers, Yamakei. They use detailed GSI official topomaps overlaid with essential information for the experienced river tripper. 

Search online
Amazon.co.jp | Kosho.or.jp

全国カヌーツーリングガイド[1] [Canoe Touring Guide No.1]

藤原尚雅 (1991). 『全国カヌーツーリングガイド [1]』. 東京, 山海堂
Fujihara Hisao (1991). Zenkoku kanu turingu gaido [1] [Canoe Touring Guide No.1]. Tokyo: Sankaido
ISBN: 4-381-10178-2

This guidebook has two Hokkaido rivers listed – the Kushiro River and Teshio River. There’s only 10 rivers written up in this 180-page plus guidebook, so there’s a lot of detail on each river. There’s a big focus on multi-day trips, with detailed write-ups on each day. The maps are quite simple, with not much detail.

Search online
Amazon.co.jp | Kosho.or.jp

カヌーライフNo.6 [Canoe Life No.6]

ISBN: 978-4777916757

We just got a message from a reader of HokkaidoWilds.org that this edition of Canoe Life, published in 2010, has a full section on Hokkaido rivers. We’ve ordered a copy and will update with photos once we get it in hand.

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  1. Pingback: Keeping Safe while Canoeing, Kayaking, or Packrafting in Hokkaido | HokkaidoWilds.org

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Hokkaido Canoe Tripping Guidebooks Difficulty Rating





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GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.