Cruise the picturesque canals of Yanagawa—once the moat network of an impenetrable water castle
Yanagawa is a charming town located in Fukuoka Prefecture, japan. Known for its historic moats that were once part of a formidable water castle, Yanagawa now boasts a network of picturesque canals that offer a unique and relaxing experience for visitors. Taking a leisurely cruise along these canals allows you to explore the town from a different perspective and immerse yourself in its rich history and culture.
The canals of Yanagawa were originally built as defensive features of the town’s castle, which was constructed in 1588. The castle, often referred to as the water castle, was a symbol of power and authority during feudal times. However, as the need for defense waned over the years, the moats were transformed into tranquil waterways that now serve as a major attraction for tourists.
One of the best ways to experience the canals of Yanagawa is by taking a punting cruise. Similar to the gondolas of Venice or the punts of Oxford and Cambridge, these small boats, known as donkobune in Japanese, are piloted by skilled oarsmen who navigate the canals using bamboo poles. As you glide along the water, the oarsman provides commentary on the town’s history and points out notable landmarks along the way.
The punting cruise takes approximately 70 minutes and covers a distance of about four kilometers. During the cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to admire the beautiful scenery, including traditional Japanese houses, lush gardens, and charming bridges that span the canals. The guides on the tours often sing songs composed by Meiji-era poet Hakushu Kitahara, adding a touch of poetry and romance to the experience.
One of the highlights of the cruise is the former samurai residence and gardens of the Toshima family. This historic site offers a glimpse into the life of the samurai during feudal times and showcases the elegant architecture and meticulous landscaping that were characteristic of the era. Exploring the gardens and the traditional Japanese house provides a deeper understanding of the town’s history and cultural heritage.
In addition to the punting cruise, Yanagawa offers other attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. The town is famous for its culinary specialty, unagi seiro mushi, which is steamed eel. This delicacy is a must-try for food enthusiasts and can be found in many local restaurants. Yanagawa also hosts various festivals throughout the year, including the Yanagawa Hina Doll Festival in March and the Yanagawa Ohina Matsuri in May, which showcase the town’s traditional arts and crafts.
Getting to Yanagawa is easy, as trains operate from Nishitetsu Fukuoka Station and take less than an hour to reach Nishitetsu Yanagawa Station. From there, the boarding area for the punting cruises is just a short walk away. Discounted combination tickets for the train and the cruise can be purchased at Nishitetsu train stations, making it convenient for travelers.
Yanagawa’s canals are not only a scenic attraction but also a reflection of the town’s rich history and cultural heritage. The city takes pride in its canals and even features artistic manhole covers that depict scenes from the canalside. These small details add to the overall charm and beauty of Yanagawa, making it a destination worth exploring.
In conclusion, a cruise along the picturesque canals of Yanagawa offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors. The town’s transformation of its historic moats into leisurely waterways has created a tranquil oasis where visitors can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the region. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature, Yanagawa has something to offer for everyone. So, hop on a punting boat, sit back, and relax as you cruise along the canals of this charming Japanese town.
Address And Maps Location:
329 Takahatake, Mitsuhashi-machi, Yanagawa-shi, Fukuoka-ken