Sunday, October 19, 2008
Today we took a trip to Yanagawa, which is a small city about a 45 minute train ride south of Fukuoka.
Yanagawa is famous in Kyushu for its canals. These are mostly the remnants of the moat of a feudal castle that used to be here. The castle was destroyed in the 19th century but several kilometres of moat still remain and are now the city's main tourist attraction.
They are probably about a hundred or so boats that are propelled by nothing more than a pole that the driver uses to push against the bottom of the canal, much like gondolas in Venice. A boat ride down the Yanagawa canals takes about 70 minutes and goes through some quite attractive scenery. The driver everyone the history and local sites of interest as you pass them. Each time we passed under one of the dozens of bridges he had to duck:
It was a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.
At the end of the ride we stopped in a restaurant to try some of the local delicacy, eel:
After that we went over to see the Ohana villa. Its basically a really nice old villa from the 17th century with a garden. Sometime in the late 19th/early 20th century a western style building (which is now actually the main attraction) was added. Its a fairly picturesque place, except for the ugly concrete hotel next door: