White rivers, rushing down from the forested volcanic mountains from Shikoku to Hokkaido, make Japan an excellent destination for rafting, kayaking, or canoeing. The hot summers make whitewater sports a particularly attractive way to break up a more culturally focused vacation, and the steep mountains and heavy rainfall mean there are rafting spots and rapids near many of the more traditional destinations.

The Kanto Region's Tone River, Japan's biggest, is also one of the best for whitewater, with grade 4 rapids, while Shikoku's Yoshino River boasts continuous stretches of grade 3 and 4 rapids running through a series of gorges. In Hokkaido, the whitewater season runs from April to November, while the rest of the year is just plain white, and perfect for skiing and snowboarding.