Yanagawa (柳川) is a small town in southwestern Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu region, which is located approx 1 hour away from Hakata City. The town is known as “the City of Water” such as Venice in Italy, and the river cruising is the best attraction.
The whole town is surrounded by the small river since the town used to be a Castle Town in Sengoku period and the river was used as water filled moats to protect the castle from enemies. Although the castle was burnt out in 1872, the nostalgic streetscape of the old town has remained till today and the town has been attracting tourists.
The main attraction of Yanagawa is river cruising around the town. Local boatman with a long pole pushes small sightseeing boats called “Donko” and entertains passengers by singing songs or showing their rowing skills. The cruise goes through the beautiful surrounding nature and the town by willow trees for about 4 km.
River cruise is run by several operators in the town and they offer prices around 1,000~1,500 yen for 40–60 mins cruising.
Another biggest attraction of Yanagawa City is their local signature food, Japanese eel. The most significant dish is Seiromushi, which is broiled eel covering seasoned steamed rice, topped by sliced omelette comes in a traditional wooden box, then steamed all together to give more falvour. The dish are served at many local restaurants in every corner of the town, and costs around 2,000 to 3,000 yen regularly.
Yanagawa is a small town but it’s very much worth taking a day trip if you are around Hakata City or Dazaifu Shrine in Fukuoka, since the town is very pretty and full of history and old culture, and most importantly the town welcomes tourists with warm hearts.