Yanagawa is a peaceful and historic city at the southwest part of Fukuoka Prefecture, south of Japan. This city was known as a castle town in the late 16th century. The old castle was surrounded by canals connecting to the main rivers; the canals have served as its defense and transportation hub for so many years. After the 17th century, the canals were eventually converted into a main source of water to irrigate the city’s agricultural farms in the villages.
Nowadays, Yanagawa city is one of the première tourist destinations in Japan because of its long and unique canals. This city is now widely known as “The city of water”. And some people call it “Venice of Japan". It continues to attract local and international tourists every day.
Now, if you are considering Yanagawa City as your next travel destination, below are the activities that can make your visit to Yanagawa extraordinary and memorable:
Kawakudari or “going down the river.”
This boat ride is the main attraction here in this city. The flat-bottomed boat, manned by a strong Japanese boatman who masterly uses his pole, carries the passengers and tours everyone around the long and wide canals all over the city.
While the boat slowly goes downstream, the boatman addresses the passengers and briefly explains sightseeing spots on the way. They sometimes chant and sing while maneuvering the boat. Along the canals magnificent views please the eyes of every passenger. Seasonal flowers such as cherry blossoms, peach blossoms, and irises adorn the river banks in spring. Not to mention the sound of the water and the scene of the willow trees swaying in the wind: they give peace and serenity.
The boat ride takes about 70 minutes, and the boat services are available all year round.
Photo: Yoshihide HANAKI on Flickr
In winter, tourists can still enjoy the rides. The boat is equipped with a Kutatsu (Japanese heating equipment) to give everyone a warm ride. Besides, while the boat is on the move, everyone can also have some hot drinks. All of these services are available anytime you take a boat ride. This is to make sure everyone is comfortable and enjoying the trip.
The Kawakudari boat rides cost 1,500 yen for adults and 800 yen for kids.
Ohana was formerly the home of Yanagawa's ruling Tachibana family. Now, this building serves as a museum and houses a splendid collection of antiques that have been passed down through successive generations of the Tachibana family for over a period of 400 years.
The Karatachi Bunjin (Writers) Footbath
The Karatachi Bunjin (Writers) Footbath, a new hub for tourists who want to walk along the streets of Yanagawa, is open to the public every day. In the footbath area, pictures and episodes of famous writers from Yanagawa such as Kitahara Hakushu, Dan Kazuo, and Hase Ken are displayed. It's a perfect place to relax after a long boat ride and a walk around the street of Yanagawa.
Yanagawa Dolls Festival or “Sagemon Meguri”
It’s been a tradition in this place that when a baby girl is born, the baby's relatives and grandmothers who wish her to grow up in good health, start sewing beautiful handballs stitch by stitch.
Later on, this unique tradition became a popular festival here in Yanagawa. The city organized this festival to let people appreciate this heartwarming practices and gorgeous sagemon.
Every spring, the City of Yanagawa gorgeously decorate their boats with “Sagemon" (ornaments displayed on both sides of a tiered stand for dolls)” to celebrate this festival.
Seiro mushi - a popular dish in Yanagawa
This dish is made by steaming the rice topped with grilled eel on chopped fried egg in a bamboo steamer. As a special delicacy, this menu is served at the restaurants. And since most of the restaurants are conveniently located along the canals, customers can enjoy this delicious food and enjoy the beautiful view at the same time.
Access to Yanagawa City
(From Tokyo to Fukuoka)
By Rail – 4h 50 min from Tokyo to Hakata Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line
By air – 1h 45 min from Haneda to Fukuoka Airport
(From Fukuoka to Yanagawa City)
By Train – (Tenjin) to Yanagawa, it takes about 45-55 minutes by express or limited express on Nishitetsu Line.
Yanagawa City Tourist Association
35 Okinohata-machi, Yanagawa City, Fukuoka
(Tourist Information Center)