Why not try river cruising as one of the best ways to enjoy the Yanagawa area! Here’s some great tips on food and seasonal fun!-1

Why not try river cruising as one of the best ways to enjoy the Yanagawa area! Here’s some great tips on food and seasonal fun!

If you really want to enjoy the Yanagawa area, a famous tourist destination in Fukuoka, then you can’t miss taking a river cruise! And you can find different attractions depending on the season, such as Hinamatsuri events in the spring, the Akari-bune night cruises in summer, and Katatsu-bune in winter. We’ll also introduce gourmet Yanagawa cuisine, such as steamed Unagi eel.

You have to visit at least once! All about Yanagawa

Yanagawa is a famous tourist destination known as the Suigo, or city of water, and once prospered as a castle town during the Edo period.
The long history of the local canals, called Horiwari, includes a time when they were an important resource used to supply water for farming, fire fighting, and daily life. They were extended into an intricate pattern for defensive purposes during the Warring States period, and now boast a combined length of 930 km. Taking a river cruise while listening to the sound of water and gazing on the former castle town is a popular activity here.
It takes approximately one hour by car to get here from the Hakata area, or around 50 minutes via express train from Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station to Nishitetsu Yanagawa Station.

What is the best way to enjoy Yanagawa river cruising?

River cruising in Yanagawa involves traveling the many canals on a boat called a Donko-bune. The cruise offers a luxurious experience watching the weeping willows, seasonal flowers, and white walled town from the river surface. Passengers can also enjoy traveling through low sluice gates and the witty guidance of the boatman.
Cruises take about 60 to 70 minutes. There are piers for boarding the boats four locations approximately 5 to 10 minutes walk from Nishitetsu Yanagawa Station, and you can board without a reservation (*). There is a restaurant that serves the famous steamed Unagi eel situated at the end of the cruise, so we recommend trying it when you disembark!
*If you wish to travel in a group, please contact the cruise provider in advance.

Enjoy Yanagawa river cruising all year round

Yanagawa is a place of abundant nature and deep history and culture. Here we introduce the various attractions in each season which will surely make you want to visit again.

  • A spring tradition: The Yanagawa Hina Festival: Sagemon Tour

    A spring tradition: The Yanagawa Hina Festival: Sagemon Tour

    Sagemon are traditional Hina Festival decorations that are hung throughout the area at this time of year. They consist of various decorations such as Temari balls and Origami cranes. This tradition began as a gift to celebrate the first festival in households where a daughter was born, and the traditional Fukuoka Yanagawa Mari balls and animal shapes included in them make glorious and adorable ornaments. In addition to the Yanagawa Mari balls, other items featured in the Sagemon include things that fly, mountain related things, tree related things, underwater creatures, animals, and dolls, and each embodies a wish for the child’s healthy growth.
    There is also a Ohinasama Water Parade performed in which young girls dressed in Ohinasama doll outfits travel along the canals under the Sagemon decorations.

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  • Enjoy a summer night cruise on an Akari-bune

    Enjoy a summer night cruise on an Akari-bune

    Canal tours are offered every year during the evenings in summertime between mid July and early October. A length of approximately 4 km of canals are illuminated for the Akari-bune, or light boats, to pass, offering you a calm and reserved mood unlike that of the daytime. Why not enjoy a ride on the Akari-bune on a cool summer evening?
    * Rides on Akari-bune are by reservation only.

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  • The Hakushu Festival and Parade on Water in memory of Kitahara Hakushu

    The Hakushu Festival and Parade on Water in memory of Kitahara Hakushu

    This fantastical waterborne parade is held at dusk on November 1st, 2nd, and 3rd to commemorate the passing of Kitahara Hakushu, one of Japan’s leading contemporary poets. Each day, approximately 70 boats decorated in different types of lanterns travel along the canals. The main event at Yanagawa in the fall, it includes performances by brass bands, choruses, Koto, and Japanese drums.

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  • The winter-only Kotatsu-bune

    The winter-only Kotatsu-bune

    The winter tradition of the Kotatsu-bune are available for a limited time only. Kotatsu are the traditional low tables used in the winter in Japan, covered with a comforter-like cloth as a place to keep the legs warm. Donko-bune boats in winter are installed with a Kotatsu containing a charcoal brazier for passengers to enjoy their cruise in comfortable warmth. Enjoying a cruise while sipping on the sweetened Amazake is an experience only available during this time of year.


Mizu-ochi is an event held every February

Mizu-ochi, or water removal, is carried out over a 10 day period in mid February of each year. For this reason, river cruises travel a shorter course for the duration.
Carried out since the Edo period, Mizu-ochi involves stopping the inflow of water to the canals so they can be cleaned, making this an important tradition for maintaining the beautiful and peaceful scenery of Yanagawa.

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Treat yourself to the cuisine of Yanagawa!

The Yanagawa region is blessed with such natural resources as the Tsukushi Plain and the Ariake Sea, and there is no shortage of delicious produce. Here we introduce some of the gourmet cuisine that you can’t miss when you visit Yanagawa.

  • Steamed Unagi eel

    Steamed Unagi eel

    Steamed Unagi eel, a specialty of Yanagawa, involves placing Kagayaki grilled Unagi eel and Kinshi tamago shredded omelet over rice with sauce, and steaming it together in a container called a Seiro. Steaming it in the Seiro ensures that the Umami flavor and fragrance of the Unagi eel seeps into the rice, resulting in an exquisite dish.

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  • Yanagawa Nabe

    Yanagawa Nabe

    Yanagawa Nabe, or hot pot, involves placing a broth in an earthenware pot, adding thin-sliced white burdock root and Dojo loach (pond loach), and topping it with egg. Dojo loach offers about the same amount of nutrition as Unagi eel, but is inexpensive, making this Nabe a popular food of the region with a long history. The simple sweet and spicy flavor make this local dish special. The dish is available at the Unagi shops and the restaurant Yanagawa Tachibana-Tei Ohana near the canals.

  • Delicacies of the Ariake Sea

    Delicacies of the Ariake Sea

    Many rare types of seafood are caught in the Ariake Sea, making Yanagawa a place where you can enjoy local cuisine that uses such seafood as great blue spotted mudskipper, warasubo (Odontamblyopus lacepedii), tonguefish, and mekaja, a local type of brachiopod. These and many other dishes are served at Unagi shops and the restaurants Yanagawa Tachibana-Tei Ohana and Yoakedyaya near the canals.


Souvenirs of Yanagawa-1

Souvenirs of Yanagawa

You will find a wide variety of delicious Yanagawa foods and items that make great souvenirs of your visit. In addition to Unagi eel available for take-out, there is also sweet boiled mudskipper or famous local confections. Meanwhile, Yanagawa themed goods include straps made in the style of Sagemon hanging decorations and in the local Yanagawa Mari craft style.

Enjoy a walk around Yanagawa along with your river cruise

  • Yanagawa Tachibana-Tei Ohana

    Yanagawa Tachibana-Tei Ohana

    This villa was a second house for the Tachibana Lords of the Yanagawa domain. The spacious grounds of over 24,000 square meters features the Omoya (a common term for the main building on the grounds) along with a western style building and a garden, making it a popular tourist destination.

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  • Kitahara Hakushu Memorial Hall

    Kitahara Hakushu Memorial Hall

    This site is a restoration of the birthplace of Hakushu Kitahara, a leading contemporary Japanese poet born in Yanagawa. Here you can explore the life of Hakushu and the many works he left us, such as Ame Furi (Happy Am I), Machibouke (Waiting in Vain), Karatachi-no-Hana (Three-Petaled Orange Blossoms), that are still loved today.

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  • Mihashira Shrine

    Mihashira Shrine

    This shrine, considered a local Yanagawa power spot, enshrines Tachibana Muneshige, the first lord of the Yanagawa domain, said to have been an outstanding military commander. It was destroyed by fire in 2005 and is currently being rebuilt. The spacious grounds of the Takahatake Park serve as the sacred area of the shrine, and are famed for their cherry blossoms in the springtime.

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  • Karatachi Bunjin Footbath

    Karatachi Bunjin Footbath

    This spacious natural hot spring footbath has room for 70 people to use it together. The footbath area also offers a gallery displaying panels with photographs and artworks by cultural figures associated with the Yanagawa area.

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So what do you think of Yanagawa? We hope that you make sure to experience a river cruise here in Yanagawa where you can enjoy the scenery and atmosphere of good old Japan.


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