Yanagawa River Cruise
The origins of Yanagawa, a castle town of 109,000-koku (a koku is a measure of rice that was used to indicate the degree of power of a fiefdom in feudal Japan), are believed to lie in a castle built by the Kamachi Clan, which ruled Yanagawa from the Kamakura Period (1185 - 1333) and into the Sengoku, or Warring States, Period (c. 1467 - c. 1600). However, Yanagawa Castle was not built in earnest until the Edo Period (1603 - 1868).
The street grids and moat grids of the town are almost exactly as they were during the Edo Period, to the extent that it is said that you could walk the streets using a 300-year-old map of the town. Explore the moats and roam the streets of the town as you enjoy the streetscapes of the Edo Period.
A highlight of Yanagawa is the river cruise. Listen to the boatman's explanations of the sights and his boat songs as you cruise for about 4 kilometers through the moats for about an hour and ten minutes. There are more than 200 of these boats, called donko-bune, so you can see them plying the waters from almost any vantage point in the town. You might even see a boatman washing his donko-bune.
Unagi Seiro-mushi is a famous local dish of Yanagawa. In Fukuoka, Yanagawa is synonymous with unagi eel. Unaju and Unadon, pieces of eel on a bed of rice, are common ways of eating unagi, but in Yanagawa, seiromushi is the preferred cuisine. A special sauce is stirred into steamed white rice, and unagi eel that has been dipped and grilled in a soy-based sauce is laid on top. Thin omelet cut into strips is scattered on top of the eel, and the whole dish is then steamed in a bamboo steamer. It is believed that this method was devised so that the whole dish could be eaten while hot, and also so that the rice would be infused with the umami flavor of the eel by steaming them together. Yanagawa has many long-established unagi restaurants, each of which protects its own traditional sauce and its own brand.
Tour of Yanagawa Hinamatsuri Sagemon
Sagemon are decorations for the Hinamatsuri Doll Festival that are unique to Yanagawa. They are believed to have started late in the Edo Period (1603 - 1868), when families would sew small figures from the scraps of old clothing and hang them up instead of Hina dolls to celebrate the first Hinamatsuri of newborn girls. The small figures included things that are signs of good fortune, such as cranes, turtles, lobsters, and a traditional doll called sanbanso. They are all made into pouches, into which items can be placed. Seven strings of seven figures are suspended from a bamboo ring, and two large embroidered balls called Yanagawa-mari are hung in the center, for a total of 51 items. This number is significant in that it is imbued with the wish of the parents that their daughter would live even one year longer in an age when people were said to live only to the age of 50.
|Name||Yanagawa River Cruise|
|Address||1-6 Shimohyaku-cho, Mitsuhashimachi, Yanagawa-shi, Fukuoka|
|Access||Approx. 5 min. walk from Nishitetsu Yanagawa Station|
|Business Hours||About 9:00 to evening (Times vary among boat companies.)|
|Inquiries||TEL:0944-74-0891 (Yanagawa City Tourist Association)|
|Admission||Adults (junior high school and older) 1,500 - 1,600 yen; Children: 800 - 820 yen
Prices vary among boat companies.
Bookings to hire out whole boats are accepted. Please inquire with the boat companies about prices for whole boat bookings.