Kyoto river tour resumes after fatal boat accident in March

A popular river tour in Kyoto Prefecture reopened Monday following a suspension of several months in the wake of an accident in which two were killed when one of the traditional wooden sightseeing vessels capsized with 29 aboard.

Tours on the Katsura River, also known as the Hozu River, in Kameoka, were initially scheduled to restart last week but were postponed when the river's water level rose due to heavy rain, according to Hozugawa Yusen Kigyo Kumiai, operator of the sightseeing tours.

The accident occurred on March 28 when a boatman made a steering error and fell into the water. The boat then hit rocks and capsized, with all those aboard also falling into the water, leaving two boatmen dead.

The operator released a document earlier this month showing measures it has implemented to stop a repeat of the accident as well as plans it has in case of another emergency.

It said the boats have been upgraded with equipment, including handles and footholds to prevent boatmen from falling, as well as ropes for easier steering.

As for passengers, the operator has introduced lifejackets that automatically inflate in an emergency.

The tours, taken by some 300,000 visitors annually, start from Kameoka and traverse through rapids before ending at Arashiyama on the outskirts of the prefectural capital Kyoto.

The tours are around 90 minutes in duration and are popular for giving access to scenic vistas that change with the seasons.

© Kyodo News