Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Cruise in a Kimono - A Half Day Yanagawa Cruise in Fukuoka
Written by miho
Yanagawa city, located in Fukuoka, is known for its streets and waterways surrounded by traditional Japanese buildings. Enjoy a relaxing cruise down the river in a kimono as you tour around the retro city.
When you hear Fukuoka, what do you think of first? Perhaps tonkotsu ramen, Dazaifu or even the lively Mojiku Port?
This time we would like to go off the beaten path and introduce to you Yanagawa in Fukuoka prefecture.
After taking the train for about an hour from Tenjin Station, you will arrive at Yanagawa Station which is quite different from the busy streets of Tenjin.
Once you’ve spent time in the relaxing atmosphere of Yanagawa's historic buildings, local foods, and fun activities, you may even forget to go home. Why not spend half the day out having fun in Yanagawa?
Basic Information on Yanagawa City
Yanagawa is located in the southern area of Yanagawa city and with the many canals running throughout the city, it is frequently referred to as "the city of water". Facing the Sea of Ariake, Yanagawa is also known for their abundant sources of delicious seafood. Their local specialties include nori seaweed from the sea and eel from the freshwater rivers.
In addition to that, many unique customs and traditional crafts supported the development of the city.
Kimono Dress-up Experience
First, let's visit Kogashin and get dressed up in traditional Japanese clothes. Originally, this shop sold Japanese clothes and provided professional photography in the traditional wear. However, after an increase of tourists in Yanagawa, they now offer kimono rental plans for those who wish to tour around the city in a kimono.
The staff only speak Japanese, but they have a convenient pamphlet with photo samples of kimonos for you to select. Several kimono are actually displayed in the store, so you can ask the staff to show them to you up close to make your selection easier.
You are able to select the kimono, obi sash, and obi decorations according to your preference. If you are unsure of which kimono to pick, just ask the staff for some advice to find one that suits you best.
In approximately 30 minutes, your transformation is complete. Hair arrangements are not included, so it is recommended for you to style your hair before you undergo your dress-up session. Tabi socks and zori sandals are available for rent, so you are able to venture out into the city in style.
Cruise Down the Historic Moat on a Small Boat
The river cruise is a famous attraction in Yanagawa and is considered to be a historical activity. Relax on a small boat and enjoy the seasonal scenery you see around the moat.
The seats on the boat are quite comfortable. In the winter, a kotatsu is set up so you can cruise down the river while staying warm. Aside from the lovely scenery, you can enjoy the 70-minute cruise with the boatman's traditional sailing songs or for visitors from abroad, they will sing a familiar Japanese tune from a famous anime. The river cruise was extremely relaxing and made people feel comfortable enough to greet other passengers on another boat.
In this relaxing atmosphere, you are able to enjoy the sounds of the flowing river and forget about the time passing by.
Special Local "Eel Cuisine" for Lunch
The best-known local cuisine of Yanagawa is probably the eel or unagi in Japanese. Grilled eel coated in a salty-sweet sauce over fluffy white rice makes for a fantastic flavor combination. This time, we enjoyed the eel dishes served at the 150-year-old historic restaurant, Saraya Fukuryu.
Inside the restaurant, there are seats on a tatami mat where you can enjoy the seasonal views of the Japanese garden outside. After making yourself comfortable, the staff will be bringing you your order on a cart. The thoughtfulness of the restaurant as a whole can be acknowledged very easily.
Their Steamed Eel in a box is 2300 yen. The most popular dish in this shop is the grilled eel set. There is a generous amount of eel with the right amount of sweetness from the sauce. The natural sweetness from the eel harmonizes well with the grilled flavor that will keep you craving for more.
Yanagawa stew is also a specialty of Yanagawa. Inside the pot, rice, burdock, egg, scallion and pond loach combine to make a really flavorful dish. The fish is cooked so softly that it almost melts in one bite. The addictive Yanagawa Stew meal is 1500 yen.
Another specialty we would like to feature is the eel rice ball that is available for takeout. The shop is right by the river, so many customers who leave the cruise stop by and purchase a rice ball to eat by the riverside. In the winter, they provide rice balls made with warm rice. In one bite, you will be able to savor the rich flavor of the eel along with the seaweed from the sea of Ariake. This fulfilling rice ball costs 500 yen for two.
Afternoon at Tachibana Residence, Ohana
Ohana was the former residence of the Tachibana family, the head of which was the feudal lord of Yanagawa during the Edo period. During the Meiji period, the main mansion of Count Tachibana was constructed in the European style. Currently, it is being used as a restaurant.
The two-storey wooden mansion was formerly used as a guest house. It has been renovated and is now frequently used for weddings, celebrations, and parties. The decorative interior creates a comforting atmosphere that is great for taking commemorative photos.
In the living room, the flower design on the ceiling and the lamp are designed to be symmetrical and are considered to have great artistic value even today.
At the Shotoen, you will be able to see a traditional Japanese garden. Inside, there are nearly 300 pine trees, large rocks and stone lanterns. The beautiful garden represents the great sea and is considered to be one of Japan's best scenic spots.
If you visit Yanagawa, you will be able to tour around the city in a traditional kimono and cruise around in a boat all while enjoying the refreshing breeze. Taste the local eel dishes and witness the culture and history that you can only experience here. Why not escape the busy city on a local train and travel leisurely somewhere different?
For more information on Yanagawa, please take a look at A Blend of East and West: Ohana Mansion in Yanagawa, Fukuoka and The Best Of Yanagawa! Food, Touring, And Souvenirs In Fukuoka.