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Punting in Yanagawa: Delight in the Tranquility and Beauty

One of the things that never fails to amaze me about Japan is the hidden beauty within her towns. One minute you can be walking through a very ordinary Japanese town with its cars and clutter, and the next minute you turn a corner into, well…. another world. This is what I found in Yanagawa.

01As soon as we crossed the little stone bridge leading to the Shogetsu punting station, it was easy to leave the hustle of the town behind.

After buying our ticket, we stepped into one of the punting boats lined up along the river, and into the past. The punter, donning a bamboo hat, took us on a 70-minute tour, known as Kawakudari in Japanese.


If you want to get into the spirit of things, you can rent a bamboo hat for 100 yen.


The meandering tour took us along the river, under some very narrow and low bridges and into the moat which surrounds the grounds on which Yanagawa castle once stood. The skill with which the punter maneuvered these tight spaces was quite impressive. Just don’t stick your hands out of the boat!


The waterway network in Yanagawa is vast and there are many punting tours operating along different parts of it.


The route was surprisingly peaceful and lined with greenery, making for an extremely pleasant and relaxing tour. The punter entertained us with stories of Yanagawa, of the famous people born and raised here and with recitals and songs from one of Japan’s most famous poets, and a son of Yanagawa, Kitahara Hakushu. Unfortunately, the commentary was only in Japanese, but to the punter’s credit, he did throw in some English words for our benefit.


07Along the bank of this part of the river, vendors offer refreshments. Just say the word and the punter will stop by. Ice cream, coffee and even Japanese sake are on offer.


Even if you don’t understand Japanese, the views are more than enough to compensate. And, whatever season you decide to visit, you will find the views stunning. I hear the cherry blossom season is particularly breathtaking.



The tour starts by the Shogetsu ticket station, a five-minute walk from Nishitestsu Yanagawa station. If you come by car there is free parking for customers. I took along a coupon from their website which gave me 10% off the usual adult ticket of 1,600 yen.

Punting tours leave every 30 minutes. They are one-way but a free shuttle bus runs at 14:30, 15:30 and 16:30 to bring you back. Shogetsu will also give you a map with details of buses and taxis if you prefer to make your own way back.

Private punting tours are also available but reservations are required.


Shogetsu Punting Station (松月乗船場)
Address: 329, Mitsuhashimachi, Takahatake, Yanagawa, Fukuoka
Telephone: 0944- 72- 6177
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 17:00
Regular Holidays: Open every day of the year, rain or shine
Access 1: 5 min walk from Yanagawa station (Nishitestu Omuta line).
Access 2: 15 taxi ride from JR Setaka station
Parking: Free
Distance to airport: 11 km from Saga Airport
Credit cards: Not accepted
HP:http://www.yanagawakk.co.jp/index.html (information in Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese)

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