Yanagawa canals

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Last Sunday, I finally got my revenge on Yanagawa ! I decided that we would go before the end of the Sagemon festival and this Sunday was the last chance. After a scare as we were expecting rain, we could enjoy a beautiful, warm day .

Kawa kudari, Yanagawa

Fukuoka prefecture map

We bought the Dazaifu -Yanagawa Sightseeing Ticket of Nishitetsu. For 2 900 yens, the ticket includes the Fukuoka - Yanagawa journey, the descent of the river, the Yanagawa - Dazaifu journey and a return to Fukuoka ticket. It is really cheap when we know that the ticket for the boat costs 1500 yens ! Also, in the envelope, there are discount vouchers for restaurants and museums in both places. Tickets are on sale at the Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) and Yakuin stations .

The train, specially decorated for the festival, was full : everyone had the same idea ! Fortunately we were able to sit before halfway and the 48 minutes journey passed very quickly. I must say that the scenery of Fukuoka (and elsewhere in Japan) from the trainis particularly nice to see, especially this season. The goal was to find the maximum cherry trees.

Just arrived at the station, completely renovated and enlarged since last June, we straightly went to the pier, already full of people and we went for a one-hour cruise along the canals of Yanagawa . This is called kawa kudari (川下り), which literally means "going down the river"  Yanagawa is called the Japanese Venice. it has around 470 kilometers of canals and kawa kudari is the main attraction of the city and a real tradition.

There are several cruise lines that offer more or less similar courses for more or less the same price, around 1,500 yens. It is possible to privatise a boat for a special occasion and booking for a night cruise. A traditional hat can be rented for 100 yen (recommended days of good weather if you do not have one because the sun hits) .

The boats, called donko-bune (どんこ船) have a capacity of around twenty people. They have no engine but are progressing through a boatman armed with a long stick much like the gondoliers of Venice. Throughout the cruise he explains the history of the canals, buildings, flowers and even sing songs ! This is very interesting and quite friendly .

Sitting at the end of a boat near the boatman, we enjoyed the cruise, although it was a bit long at the end. We pass under bridges of various heights, some are so low that it is essential to bend down, it was pretty funny.
From the canal, we see more private homes than old buildings. Those built at the waterfront make you want to buy them, some even have a part of their garden on the other bank!  I could not help thinking that it must be dangerous to live here during floods or typhoons.

But more than the architecture, what you must enjoy is the calm and the vegetation. During our visit there were some cherry trees but there was a lot of peach trees in full bloom! Trees have their branchs falling on the canals. It's very pretty and poetic. It must also be wonderful when the petals will fall into the water to form flowers carpets.  There is a nice walk along the canals where we saw a lot of walkers.

Kawa kudari, Yanagawa

Kawa kudari, Yanagawa

Kawa kudari, Yanagawa

Kawa kudari, Yanagawa

Kawa kudari, Yanagawa

Kawa kudari, Yanagawa

Kawa kudari, Yanagawa

Kawa kudari, Yanagawa

On landing, it was almos 2pm and we were hungry. We headed to a restaurant to eat  a traditional Yanagawa dishcalled  Unagi no Seiro-mushi (うなぎのせいろ蒸し). It is soy sauce  grilled eel with finely chopped egg on rice, all steamed in a bamboo grid. This is a fairly expensive dish, around 2,800 yens.

I had already eaten a piece of eel in a supermarket on the first day of my second trip to Japan. Jet-lagged, I did not appreciate at all but I was impatient to taste the Seiro-mushi and I was not disappointed: it's really delicious. Grilled eel blends perfectly with the sweetness of the eggs and flavored rice.
I think that the dish entered the top 3 of my favorite regional specialties.

We then spun on the city of Dazaifu , of which I have spoken to do some window shopping and eating ice cream.


Dazaifu, sanctuaire tenman-gu
 Tenmangu shrine (天満宮) at Dazaifu
I talked about the Sagemon festival at the beginning of the post. The word "sagemo " refers to decorations (animals, dolls , balls temari , etc ...) which are hung on a mobile. From the station to restaurants, from shops to buses or private gardens, there are absolutely everywhere (except in the street) and the quality of these handmade objects is amazing ! Here are some examples.
Sagemon Festival , Yanagawa

Sagemon Festival , Yanagawa

Festival Sagemon, YanagawaSagemon Festival , Yanagawa

Adress :
Fukuoka Prefecture, Yanagawa city, Inari-cho, 20-2

Phone number :

Prices :
from 1 300¥ (from 1 900¥ for the seiro-mushi dish)

Opening hours :
Everyday(fermeture hebdomadaire le mardi) from 11am to 8pm

Official page
 (there is also restaurants in Fukuoka City).

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