The mountainous and forested setting of Minakami contributes well to its image as an outdoor sports haven, and one of the top adventure destinations in Japan. In the winter the town's steep mountain slopes become covered in deep snow, and the half dozen or so snow resorts in the area open up for skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
Come April the spring melt from all that snow swells the Tone River running through Minakami, creating ideal conditions for a number of river sports such as whitewater rafting, kayaking and canyoning. Also offered during the warmer months are bungee jumping, mountain biking and hiking, as well as new adventure sports that are continuously being added in the Minakami area.
Most activities are only available as either half day or full day guided tours, and during specific seasons. English speaking guides are available for most tours and activities.
Additionally, nearby Mount Tanigawa is a popular mountain climbing and hiking spot from spring to fall, and in the winter it has a ski resort with one of the highest and deepest snow bases in Japan.
Season: April to November Fee: Half day tours from 9,000 yen, full day from 16,000 yen
Multiple companies run whitewater rafting tours on Minakami's Tone River. The full 12 kilometers of raftable river has sections to cater to all skill levels from the first timer to experienced rafters. The river is wildest from April to June when the snow melt is at its peak. Half day tours with English speaking guides are available.
Season: May to late October Fee: Half day tours from 9,500 yen, full day tours from 15,000 yen
Canyoning is an adventure sport that involves making your way down a river by a combination of hiking, swimming, sliding down chutes and jumping from waterfalls. Protected by wetsuits, helmets, and other safety gear, this thrilling sport is one of Minakami's most popular summer attractions. Guided half day and full day tours as well as English speaking guides are available.
Season: Mid April to October Closed: Tues and Wed (April to mid July), Wed and Thurs (Oct) Fee: 12,000 yen
Minakami hosts bungee jumping from the Suwakyo Bridge near the town's center. The 42 meter freefall over the Tone River is Japan's longest bridge bungee jump. English instruction is available.
Season: April to November Fee: Half day tours from 6,000 yen, full day tours from 10,000 yen
A few companies operate guided mountain biking tours which run along the trails through the backcountry of Minakami. Both half day and full day courses are available, and some companies have English speaking guides.
Season: June to October (Mount Tanigawa)
Various hiking trails can be found throughout the Minakami area. One popular destination is Mount Tanigawa, which has a trail along the length of its ridge that crosses between Gunma and Niigata Prefectures. In the spring and summer the surrounding mountains are a lush green which turn brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow in autumn.
Season: December to April Fee: Lift day passes typically 4,000 to 5,000 yen
There are more than half a dozen ski resorts situated in Minakami. Some of them are a mere minutes away from the station, while others are found higher up in the mountains. They are open to both skiers and snowboarders, and English guided backcountry tours or skiing/snowboarding lessons are also available.