Translated by Jasmine Nishino
The Best of Yanagawa! Food, Touring and Souvenirs in Fukuoka
Written by MATCHA-PR
Known as the "city of water", Yanagawa in Fukuoka is famous for the many rivers running through the retro city. Find scenic places to tour around with delicious sweets and fun souvenirs to take home!
Yanagawa in Fukuoka prefecture has plenty of great places to visit for local treats, such as popsicles and tea, and decorative souvenirs that can help you understand the cultural background of the city. Most shops are located along the river so moving around to find the shop of your choice is very easy. Now, let's venture around the city of Yanagawa together.
If it weren’t for the flags out front, this popsicle specialty shop could almost be mistaken for a regular Japanese home from the outside.
The logo of this shop is a cute hippo. Apparently, the store owner's name in Japanese sounded like "kaba" (hippo), so he decided to stick with it. There are limited edition hand-made items with this hippo logo for sale as well. After eating a popsicle, why not take home a popsicle-shaped keychain as a souvenir? One handmade popsicle keychain is 650 yen.
With so many flavors of popsicles, it becomes very hard to choose! The summer limited banana and mango flavored popsicle is made with fruits from the orchard nearby, so you can taste the freshness of the fruit! There are only limited amounts made, so these sell out very quickly.
This time we ordered the local specialty of Yanagawa, the Amaou strawberry, mandarin oranges from Nokonoshima Island and Yame city's matcha green tea gelato. Each one is made using traditional methods and natural local ingredients, giving it a very simple flavor with a nice sweetness to it. Prices: Amaou strawberry: 120 yen, Sweet summer mandarin orange: 120 yen, matcha green tea gelato: 300 yen.
Colorful Distinctive Souvenirs
In Yanagawa you can find many various types of traditional handmade Japanese souvenirs. One of the most representative crafts of Yanagawa are the decorations used for the Hina Matsuri (Girl's Day) festival and mari balls. In Yanagawa, families traditionally celebrate the newborn girl's first Hina Matsuri by putting up decorations called ‘sagemon’ to pray for the good health of the child.
On this day, we decided to visit a sagemon specialty store Sagemon Mikusa to learn more about the culture of the traditional craft.
A sagemon is a decoration that uses red and white fabric wrapped around a 40 cm bamboo ring where seven strings with seven decorations representing good luck and mari balls from Yanagawa are hung on each string. In the center, four mari balls, two large and two small are hung with a total of 51 decorations. At Sagemon Mikusa, the Hina Matsuri decorations and mari balls are all hand-crafted by the experienced female artisans of Yanagawa.
The mari balls take time to make, so only two balls can be made in a day. Many have beautiful flower patterns such as chrysanthemums, camellias and irises.
Each design on the Hina Matsuri decorations also has a meaning. The turtle represents long life, the mouse represents diligence, the cicada represents a strong will and much more.
2017 marks the year of the rooster, so there were already samples for the rooster already on display. Each decoration is cute, but keeps the traditional Japanese style!
A Tea Time Full of Happiness
If you stop by Yanagawa, you should definitely try the delicious foods and confectionery made in the area. One shop we would like to recommend is the black tea specialty shop, River Flow.
A specialty shop for black tea may seem very out of place in a retro Japanese neighborhood, but there are over fifty types of black tea that have been selected from Japan and other places in the world. Each tea has a distinctive flavor and according to the customer's tastes, the staff of the store will help you choose the tea of your choice.
This time, we ordered the Yame tea that uses tea leaves from Yame city in Fukuoka. The initial taste is very refreshing, but the flavor of the tea is gradually brought out. When you order a drink, a mini chiffon cake comes along with it too.
The egg chiffon cake is a perfect side when you are craving something extra to go along with your tea. The outside of the cake has a nice hardness while the softness of the cake can be felt the moment you stick your fork in it. The fluffiness and the semi-sweet flavor of the whipped cream also match very well with the tea.
A Luscious Steak For Dinner
In Yanagawa, not many restaurants and eateries have their doors open until the late hours of the evening, but the steak house Gyutei near the Nishitetsu Yanagawa Station does. Here, you will be able to savor a delicious western-style meal even during the night.
Gyutei is a nice sized shop with welcoming decorations and is operated by a husband and wife duo. Once you sit by the counter, the husband, who is the chef, prepares the meat and you can watch him focus while cooking.
This time, we ordered the steak set for dinner. The scrumptious set comes with a salad, soup, an alcoholic drink, rice or bread, steak, dessert, and coffee. The steak has been cooked nicely and the sliced garlic with the house sauce brings out the flavor of the meat very well. Set price: 4500 yen.
If you visit Yanagawa, why not experience the food and goods after visiting the tourist attractions? You’re sure to feel satisfied after tasting the popsicles this area is famous for, seeing traditional crafts, savoring some local tea and eating luxurious steak meals in Yanagawa!
For more information on Yanagawa, please take a look at A Blend of East and West: Ohana Mansion in Yanagawa, Fukuoka and Cruise In A Kimono - The Half Day Yanagawa Cruise In Fukuoka.