Travel to the Oldest city in Japan: Welcome to Fukuoka Prefecture / Off the beaten Path: Yanagawa City
"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.
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.
Via Air - 1h 15 min from Itami to Fukuoka Airport.
Via Rail - 2h 20 min from Shin-Osaka to Hakata Station by Shinkansen.
Travel to Fukuoka and Yanagawa