Yanagawa (柳川) is a lovely town with some beautifully quiet canals to explore. It is located between Fukuoka and Kumamoto, and so is a cool place to stop off on the way if you want some time away from big cities. The waterways go all around the town, including the old castle ruins, traditional townhouses and some small shrines. Yanagawa may not be well known abroad, but has a good reputation among domestic tourists.

Budget travel tips

  • While going on a boat is popular with tourists, we would recommend walking. You can more easily take your time and, of course, it’s free! Pick up a walking map at the Tourist Information Center just outside the station on the west side or here.
  • For those that want to do punting, Yanagawa Kanko Kaihatsu do some good discount tickets and coupons.

How to get there

With a Japan Rail Pass

From Fukuoka (Hakata station) or Kumamoto, take the Shinkansen to Chikugo-Funagoya station. From here you can take a bus or local train to Nishitetsu Yanagawa station.

Without the Japan Rail Pass

From Fukuoka (Hakata station), go to Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) station next to Tenjin station. Take the Nishitetsu Tenjin-Omuta line to Nishitetsu Yanagawa station (55 mins, 850 yen).

From Kumamoto, take the JR Kagoshima line to Omuta, then Nishitetsu Tenjin-Omuta line to Nishitetsu Yanagawa station (80 mins, 1280 yen).


Hostels and cheap hotels

There is no budget accommodation, so it’s best to stay in Fukuoka or Kumamoto and come here on the way to somewhere else.


Yanagawa Punting – Lots of useful information in English

Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict