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The unknown Venice of Japan.

Known as Japan’s very own Venice, Yanagawa in Fukuoka Prefecture is as picturesque as the comparison suggests; hundreds of kilometers of peaceful canals criss-cross through an old town complete with traditional storehouses, narrow lanes, and willow trees dipping into the water.

The canals are Yanagawa’s star attraction. Visitors can ride a boat as their tour guide, garbed in traditional Japanese costume, entertains them with an engaging narrative of the city’s history.

Spanning approximately 470 kilometers, the canals were originally used as irrigation for the area’s primary industry; agriculture. However, with the rise of industrialization and the decline in local farming, the water became a medium for showcasing the city’s scenic beauty to tourists.

Called kawakadari, roughly translated as “descending the river”, the river cruise is an intimate experience – the sounds of the streets fade to silence as you slowly drift on the still waters. The tour guide will steer the boat with a 3-foot long pole, skillfully navigating through the narrow waterways.

Bridges in Yanagawa, Fukuoka.

You’ll have to watch your head in some parts – some bridges are so low you have to crouch in the boat.

Seasonal events

One of the most famous people born and raised in Yanagawa is Kitahara Hakushu, a renowned poet and writer of children’s songs. In fact, the songs you’ll hear the boatmen singing are those written by Kitahara himself. His old home has been transformed into a museum dedicated to his works and there’s even a Kitahara festival in November.

Photo by: hiro26271 Wisteria bridge at Yanagawa, Fukuoka.

Apart from the boat cruise, Yanagawa offers a wonderful variety of festivities throughout the year. In April, you can take in the blooming wisteria at the Nakayama Wisteria Festival, while in August, you can meander the streets of Yanagawa and sample festival eats from stalls set up around the city for the Ariake Sea Fireworks Festival.

Before you leave the city, be sure to try out the famous steamed eel served in a basket on a bed of steaming rice.

Things To Know

Kawakudari Boat Cruise

Adults: ¥1600 / Children: ¥800. The cruise takes around 70 minutes.

How To Get There


Yanagawa, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan

By train

It’s a 50-minute train ride from Nishitetsu Tenjin to Nishitetsu Yanagawa, costing ¥850. There’s a shuttle bus from the station.

Where To Stay

Yanagawa Hakuryuso
  • 16 Shimmachi, Yanagawa-shi, Fukuoka, 832-0032 Japan
  • ¥10,450 - ¥10,450
  • 4.37/5 (329 reviews)
  • 0.6 km
Hotel New Gaea Yanagawa
  • 1-14 Mitsuhashimachi Shimohyakucho, Yanagawa-shi, Fukuoka, 832-0822 Japan
  • ¥8,500 - ¥16,000
  • 4.24/5 (128 reviews)
  • 1.2 km
Hotel Route-Inn Yanagawa Ekimae
  • 210-10 Mitsuhashimachi Shimohyakucho, Yanagawa-shi, Fukuoka, 832-0822 Japan
  • ¥8,055 - ¥12,700
  • 4.22/5 (396 reviews)
  • 1.4 km

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