Yanagawa is a canal town formed around the former Yanagawa Castle which lies in the center. You're able to ride on a small boat and explore the canals of the town seeing the surrounding sights and learning about the culture and history of the town. There are many things to see and do during each season! Check out historic spots such as where former feudal lords lived among many more famous sightseeing spots. If you time your visit right, you'll even be able to check out some seasonal festivals such as the Yanagawa Hinamatsuri Sagemon Tour.
Yanagawa is just one major city in the Chikugo Chihou found in the south of Fukuoka Prefecture and is located around 50 kilometers south of Fukuoka. The castle town was born during the Sengoku Era (15th - 16th century) of Japan from the lord of Yanagawa Castle, the Kamachi clan. From there, during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (approx. 1558-1600 CE) the Tanaka Clan took control of the tower before passing it on to the Tachibana clan during the Edo period of Japan, where they continued to lead until the start of the Meiji Era.
The largest characteristic of Yanagawa is the large number of canals that were constructed by Kamachi Akimori during the Sengoku Period to protect the castle that lies in the center. From there, during the Azuchi-Momoyama period, Tanaka Yoshimasa began to use the water for cultivation purposes, creating the foundation of the canals which can be seen today.
Explore Yanagawa's Canals!
If you're visiting Yanagawa, the one thing you can't afford to not try is the "Ohori Meguri" which takes you around all of the historic sites via boat on the canals.
The boat boarding area can be found a short 5-10 minute walk from Nishitetsu Yanagawa Station, with 4 areas total where you're able to board a boat.
On the one-way downstream course, you're going to be riding from the boarding area until Yanagawa Tachibana-Tei OHANA (Requires around 60 minutes), or to "Okinohatamachi" (Requires around 70 minutes). Once you arrive, if you wish to return to the boat boarding area, there's a shuttle bus available.
During your journey downstream, you'll be able to see amazing sights such as the Yanagawa Tachibana-Tei OHANA which was built during the Edo Period as well as the red-bricked storehouses known as "Nami-kura" which were built during the Meiji Era. There are many more things you'll be able to see during your trip such as the watergate and the bridges which you will pass under.
There are many seasonal events here as well, such as Kotatsu Bun in winter, Yanagawa Doll's Festival Sagemon Meguri and Hina-meguri Bune during Spring, Akari Bune during summer, and much more meaning you can visit multiple times and always have something new to see.
Business hours for the boats begin at around 9 am and last until sunset. The fee to ride the boats are as follows; Adult (Middle school Student and above) 1500-1600 JPY, Child 800-830 JPY. The price may vary depending on which company you choose to ride with. You're also able to make reservations in advance, so we recommend contacting the companies beforehand.
Please check the boating company's websites here:
＊The sites listed below are in Japanese, if you're able to read Japanese please make use of these websites as well.
Must-Visit Sightseeing Spots!
Here are some sightseeing spots you should visit when visiting Yanagawa!
Yanagawa Tachibana-Tei OHANA
This is the residence used by the Tachibana Clan during the Edo Period. It spans over 23,000 square meters and is recognized by Japan as the "Tachibana Clan Garden". It holds a Western-style house built in 1910 as well as the "Shoto-en" garden. Within the museum, you'll find ancestral tools used by the Tachibana Clan, a hotel, a restaurant, and much more.
Homepage : http://www.ohana.co.jp/index_e.html
Mr.Toshima’s Residence and Garden
Built during the Kansei Period from 1789 to 1801, used as the tea house of the current feudal lord. You're able to enjoy a beautiful garden that has been recognized by Japan as a place of scenic beauty.
Ruins of Yanagawa Castle
Yanagawa Castle completed its construction during the Eiroku Period (1558-1570) and is surrounded by canals often called "impregnable" during its prime. Unfortunately, the castle was lost in 1872 due to a fire, with only the ruins remaining becoming the plot for Yanagawa Highschool and Ryujyo Middle School.
The Karatachi Bunjin Footbath
The Karatachi Bunjin Footbath is a comparatively new facility which opened in 2007. Episodes and pictures are displayed from cultured persons such as Kitahara Hakushu and Dan Kazuo are displayed here. It's a great place to take a break and rest your feet after a long walk exploring the surrounding sights.
Yanagawa's Delicious Foods
Unagi no Seiro-mushi (eel steamed in a basket)
Unagi no Seiro-mushi is Yanagawa's most well-known dish, it's a dish that applies sauce to the rice before steaming, then placing some steamed eel over the top and steaming once more. Through steaming the dish twice it allows the eel to be soft.
How to Get to Yanagawa
- 49 minutes from Fukuoka, Tenjin to Yanagawa using the Nishitetsu-Tenjin-Omuta Line. 41 minutes from Dazaifu. 13 minutes from Omuta.
- 50 minutes via bus from Saga Bus Center.
- If you're driving take the Kyushu Expressway until Miyama-Yanagawa IC.
In this article, we introduced Yanagawa, a former castle town with many beautiful sights to see and things to do. There are many things we didn't get to introduce to you within this article, so if you visit Yanagawa during your next trip to Japan, check out the website listed below which has more information on the amazing sightseeing spots you can visit and make a plan!
Sightseeing Association Homepage: http://www.yanagawa-net.com/eng/index.html