Travel to the Oldest city in Japan: Welcome to Fukuoka Prefecture / Off the beaten Path: Yanagawa City

1:05:00 PM Jerik De Guzman 18 Comments


ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2011 RE-BLOGGED: Approximately 899 kilometers from Tokyo, welcome to Japan's oldest city and World's 14th most livable city, Fukuoka. Fukuoka Prefecture is an absolute chilled city where a throbbing metropolis thrives in the same area where jungles, lush forests and thousand year old temples abound. I navigated my way around Kyushu region in Hakata and Tenjin in the city, Yanagawa and Saga-Ken. Lively nightlife, impeccable views of mountain ranges and endless sushi! 

I woke up in Osaka still feeling tired. I had a brief chat in the morning with one fellow backpacker as he was leaving already for Germany. I asked for cool shopping spots in Osaka. I was thinking maybe i could squeeze in some shopping as i have heard rave reviews about shopping in Osaka. After a few hours, i went back to the the hostel and made my way to the station. I arrived in Fukuoka an hour after six pm. And connected to a train headed for Yanagawa. I have to say, it's not easy traveling around here. Yanagawa isn't a popular tourist spot for foreigners. And Lonely Planet is just starting to write about the place. 



"Yanagawa has hundreds of kilometers of canals, and this is what draws in the crowds. The town was originally a farming village, and the canals were built hundreds of years ago for irrigation. They have since been restored and today are plied by donkobune--low flat boats powered by a man with a pole--that take tourists on short cruises."

There were a few people around the station. I saw a couple of students waiting at the station for their ride home. I felt good as i was really traveling off the beaten path this time. Signs aren't in English anymore and most of the people I've chance encountered with don't speak English anymore. For the past 36 hours, i was the only foreigner this side of Fukuoka. The more it was unfamiliar, the better i felt.

One of the real reasons for me traveling to Fukuoka was to visit my good friend who has settled quite an interesting quiet life in Yanagawa. She's a really great friend and it's been a long time since i saw her. I told her i was headed for Japan, good thing our schedules met as she was coming back with her family from Seoul the day before. You have to know that Fukuoka is actually closer to some parts of South Korea than it is in Japan's capital, Tokyo.


A few minutes later, the family picked me up at the train station. It was good seeing them all, the husband, my friend and two cutesy little boys! The first thing we want to do was to eat out. During the ride, i was briefed what the district was all about. They told me how simple and quiet life is here. And Fukuoka is definitely the nightlife capital of Japan but in Yanagawa, it's simple and relaxed. We ate at a diner that couldn't be more perfectly named, "Joyful", that served excellent burger steak with fried rice and bottomless cola. We were stuffed and ready to head home. The food is here was probably one of the best in my whole trip in Japan. 


I couldn't thank my friend and her family for allowing me to stay overnight at their lovely abode. I woke up the next day and walked around for a bit and realized how impeccably quiet it is here. I told her how much i love the area where she lives. There were green paddies fronting the house, and all of the neighbors pretty much value their peace. Last night was perfect as i had been able to experience real living in Japan. After a stuffed dinner, i went to fix my stuff. Headed to the living room to watch Japanese TV shows, eat some more and chat about life in Japan. I also had a few minutes to update my social networking sites and make sure everyone back home knows my whereabouts. What better way to end the night before sleeping, a warm bath. In Japan, during the cold seasons which includes Autumn, the people usually prepare a warm bath to cool off tired muscles. I did just that. I soaked my tired limbs and read my Lonely Planet book, thinking where to head next. 

After eating a lovely breakfast meal with the family the next day, we decided to check out this museum. To be honest, i didn't really have a plan. I just wanted to go wherever and this museum popped in the discussion as one of the must see places in Yanagawa. I haven't been to one museum in Japan so this should be the perfect time to go to one.


As a writer, fate couldn't pick a far batter museum for me than to visit here at the home / museum of such an influential poet of modern Japan. Learning about his work and his passion surely impresses me and inspires me to continue honing my profession.


Checking out cool costumes of Japanese soldiers ni-mai dô (clamshell armours). It's natural for me to feel overwhelmed by such an enormous collection of historical artifacts and antiquities. If you're interested in the history of Japanese armors, this site should explain the history and the different parts of this awesome costume. http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/


I was face to face with this beast. Cool, elaborate and spunky swordsman. Awesome!





I went for a walk and started throwing little stones here at Ohana Shotokan.


Going here was such a welcoming feeling. After the busy and the hectic city life in Osaka, it's so tranquil out here. If i had more time, i could have written a haiku or poem but time was proving to be a challenge as i needed to explore as many places as possible in Yanagawa with such a short amount of time. Now, i did regret getting lazy in Kyoto and Osaka.


We all walked and walked. We passed by bakery shops that sell one of those tasty breads and pastries. There was also a wedding during this time and elegantly dressed men and women paraded the streets. There are a lot of school kids who frequent this area. The time that i went there, a school bus loaded with grade-schoolers were having their field trip. The students sat on the floor and painted their own rendition of the ancestral home and of course, Yanagawa's most popular tourist attractions... the beautiful and awe-inspiring canals.






From Tokyo:

Via Air - 1h 45 min from Haneda to Fukuka Airport, and 5 min from the airport to Hakata Station by subway. 
Via Rail - 4h 50 min from Tokyo to Hakata Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line. 48 min from Hakata via Tenjin (subway) and Fukuoka (Nishitetsu Line, limited express) to Nishitetsu Yanagawa Station. 


From Osaka:

Via Air - 1h 15 min from Itami to Fukuoka Airport.
Via Rail - 2h 20 min from Shin-Osaka to Hakata Station by Shinkansen.

Additional text sourced from here, here

Travel to Fukuoka and Yanagawa

18 Comments:

Markyramone said...

ang scenic ng surroundings. Hope, in light of recent destruction in some parts of Japan, they all get back on their feet and goes back to normal the soonest possible time.

Rizalenio said...

I love reading this entry and looking at your photos. Oh, Japan!

Major broadsheets today say that Tsunami victims may reached 22,000. Praying for JAPAN.

@Markyramone Yah man!!! There's so much to see in Japan. One good chat i had with my Japanese friend, he said they had the worst history. Pained a lot of people because of war. But they've learned their lessons. Of course, i had to open up the Philippines during the Japanese time. I haven't met anyone or came across anyone who didn't smile at me after finding out i was Filipino. The Japanese people love the Philippines!!!

@Rizalenio you would love to take photos here! The charm of history is so apparent. i can breathe and feel the past. Japan is clearly my top destination in Asia. All the reasons for an awesome time, I've experienced it here!!!

I know, it seems the number of people who passed away is still climbing. :(

Astig ng Japanese soldier armours! Parang costume lang sa movie :)

Ed said...

anong ginagawa ng mga bata na nakaupo lang sila sa bridge on top of the canal? hehe. satin yan, baka masagasaan na sila ng sasakyan. haha.

great that you were able to try the simple life in Japan, jerik. A good break from all the city hustle. from what you've shared, tahimik na tahimik talaga dyan. really lucky of you to have somebody who lives there too! i believe she was really happy to have seen an old friend.

galing ng shots, may piano pa! hehe

"sigh" Japan Japan, one day I will see you, pag my promo ulit :)

pusang kalye said...

nasa Japan kaparin ba? hope you are okay there. yung----Hakushu Kitahara Ancestral Home and Museum!---parang old Spanish house lang sa Pinas.hahaha

Chyng said...

considering to visit japan soon, pero after the quake, parang postpone muna.. tiis muna ko sa little tokyo in makati! hehe

@Pinay Travel Junkie eh yung wala akong alam sa history kaya para akong nag-aral pagdating ko dun. i love the intricacy of the costumes. Noon pa lang, advance na talaga ang Japan!

@Ed the kids are on a field trip. they are sitting on the road while writing haiku and painting inspired by the river canals and old buildings. ha ha I know di puwede gawin sa Edsa yan. Yanagawa is quiet and peaceful. It's rural living here but i actually prefer it. I wake up and it's not hectic like Tokyo or Osaka but i love that too. I thank my friend for taking care of me on my trip to Fukuoka. Actually, i haven't seen a lot of Filipinos on my trip. That's surprising! Thanks Ed!!!

@lakwatsera de primera Cebu Pacific actually offers the cheapest direct flight to Japan. I flew Cathay Pacific and it's actually cheaper than Philippine Airlines. But with one stop-over in in Hong Kong. When i planned this trip, i knew i have to arrive in Tokyo and fly back home from there.

@pusang kalye nope backlogged lang sa pagsusulat. i was in Japan November 2010. Yes, the ancestral home/museum is similar to what we have. Parang bahay lang ni Emilio Aguinaldo sa Cavite. he he What's nice though is i've seen the works in person. Hakushi Kitahara is a celebrated poet and it's inspiring to see his works. Magaling siya talaga! May depth yung sinasabi niya.

@Chyng ako din i want to go back pero hayaan muna natin sila mag-rebuilding. I plan on going back 2012 mga April so it's cherry blossom season. Chyng, i promise to write something how it's not really that expensive in Japan. Thanks!!!

vin said...

the piano picture reminds me of a scene in winter sonata(korean nga lang)

@Vin he he pero toh Pinoy!!! Actually, i don't know how to play the piano. It's one of my greatest dream but i guess you have to start young if you want to learn. now, i think it's too late. i loved winter sonata but my favorite is stairway to heaven. the first and last scene where the guy plays the piano by the beach is one of the most unforgettable TV moments of my life.

Ian said...

A refreshing take on the other side of Japan, puro nalang kasi metropolis at Tokyo on the limelight. Good thing to about the other places in Japan like Fukuoka.

@Ian to make this trip a little more different, i knew i needed to feature a different side of Japan. Rural living in Japan is relaxing and simple, which is my kind of life.