Leisurely tour a 400-year-old moat on slow boats
A 40-minute ride from Fukuoka Station. When Yanagawa Castle was built about 410 years ago, an artificial moat to encircle the castle was also constructed along with a water usage system for flood control and irrigation so that you can take a ride on a lattice-like network of large and small canals that measure a total length of 470km within the city. The Yana River provides a distinct riverside scenery. Punting down the river should be more accurately called punting down a moat. The conservation of water in the canals is for flood prevention, and has been a useful historic asset for the citizens’ lives as something to be used in agriculture and against fires. The mood engendered by these waterways has been beloved by many men of culture, and the renowned Japanese poet Hakushu Kitahara who was born and raised by the Yana, depicted the area in his poetry. Riding the small boats known as donko bune, the oarsmen steer the boat with their paddles as they navigate and guide you down the river for a 4.5km course that lasts about an hour. There are five boating companies in front of Nishitetsu Yanagawa Station, and since all of the boats depart at 30-minute intervals, you can get a ride easily without having to make reservations. Kasa hats can be rented out so that you can get into the mood of sailing down the river. There are also boats which are equipped with warm kotatsu in the winter so you can enjoy the rides all year round. The riverbanks are decorated by flora throughout the four seasons so you can appreciate the view at your leisure the whole year through.
A townscape with hints of the old castle town beloved by great writers
After enjoy the punting, you will want to take a leisurely tour around on foot. At the Ohana, the Tachibana manor of the Yanagawa feudal lord which is now the nationally-designated Place of Scenic Beauty, Tachibana Garden, the lord’s residence, the famous Shoto Garden and the restaurant Taigetsukan are all recommended spots to enjoy. Also, with sites such as the house where local poet Hakushu Kitahara was born and the Old Toshima House, this is a beautiful town with remnants of the old castle town and monuments dedicated to cultural literati.