Anytime of the year is a good time to visit Yanagawa, often referred to as “The Venice of Kyushu”. And while punting down its tranquil canals with a singing boatman is a must, consider checking out Unryu no Sato, a museum dedicated to the sport of sumo. There’s an outdoor sumo ring and inside there’s plenty of displays and memorabilia. This perfectly coincides with the Kyushu Sumo Tournament taking place in Fukuoka City in November.
Yanagawa Canal Boat Cruising
Local oarsmen use a single pole to gently glide the punts along a four and a half kilometer course of canals. From Dec. 1 until Feb. 28 the boats are fitted with kotatsu (a blanket and table with a heater) to keep passengers warm and cozy, and are referred to as kotatsubune.
• Open every day
• Adult: ¥1,600, 5 y.o. ~ ES: ¥820
• Four boat launches within a 10 min. walk from Nishitetsu Yanagawa Sta.
• 0944-74-0891 (Yanagawa City Tourist Information Center)
Unryu no Sato (Sumo Museum and Library)
The museum has become more popular in recent years following the stunning win by Yanagawa-local Kotoshogiku at the New Year’s Grand Sumo Tournament in January 2016. On display are several showcases filled with memorabilia lent to the museum by Kotoshogiku’s family.
• Closed: Mon. and the last Thu. of the month
• Adults: ¥100, ES & JHS: ¥50
• 151-2 Takanoo, Yamato-machi, Yanagawa, Fukuoka (15 min drive from central Yanagawa)
Note: The museum does not have foreign language information or guidance.
Yamahira Fish Shop and Restaurant
Located just steps away from the Okihata (punt dock) is a real gem, especially if you love seafood. It’s a long established, family-run fresh fish shop and restaurant. Locals and restaurant owners shop here for a wide variety of live seafood from the nearby Ariake Sea. One of the local stars is mutsugoro (mudskipper), an unusual looking beast that looks as much like a fish as it does a reptile. They are caught on the nearby tidal mudflats and you can enjoy them cooked-to-order here, or in one of several of Yamahira’s original omiage (souvenir) products, such as their instant Mutsugoro Ramen (¥250). If the mutsugoro had a co-star it would be the warasubo (gobies). They’re a long eel-like fish with a ferocious looking fanged teeth mouth. They are now commonly referred to as the “Alien of Araike” and are usually eaten grilled, but of course they have Alien Ramen (¥250) on offer too. Lunches from ¥800 and many other set meals, or select a fish from the shop and have to cooked to your taste.
• 94-1 Inarimachi, Yanagawa, Fukuoka
• Open: restaurant 11:30 ~ 15:00 (L.O.14:30), 17:00 ~ 11:00 (L.O. 21:30), fish shop: 9:00 ~ 21:00, souvenir shop: 9:00 ~ 22:00
• Closed: Tue. (except hol.)