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Dazaifu and Yanagawa – Fukuoka Day Trip

Fukuoka Day Trip

Dazaifu and Yanagawa are popular destinations for a day trip from Fukuoka. They’re both picturesque places that offer a perfect contrast to the city and lots of opportunities to take beautiful photos of the more traditional side of Japan, just a short train ride away.

Dazaifu

The main attraction in Dazaifu is Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. It’s a shrine complex with really beautiful gardens (including an iconic Japanese arched bridge), statues and grounds to explore. When I was researching things to do in Fukuoka, it seemed like almost everyone goes to Dazaifu!

The road leading to the shrine from the station is an old Japanese street with shops selling snacks and souvenirs, including the umegaimochi I tried in the video. I love how different areas in Japan have local specialities – it really adds to the local character when there’s something special you can’t get anywhere else, and it’s something I’ve seen time and time again on my travels in Japan.

Another common feature at tourist attractions is a souvenir stamp or stamp rally. Again, with the idea of being unique to one location, it’s a specially designed rubber stamp to commemorate your visit, a bit like checking in. I usually end up stamping whatever maps or print-outs I have on me, but if you’re more prepared it’d make a nice souvenir to collect them in a book.

For me the highlight of the visit was the inari shrine behind the main shrine. It’s hidden away in the woods – you have to climb some stairs to get to it, so it feels more like an adventure. You’re rewarded with an atmospheric shrine at the top, which is a lot less crowded than the main complex.

Inari shrine, Dazaifu

There’s a much quieter, more atmospheric inari shrine behind the main Dazaifu Tenmagu Shrine

Inari shrines are characterised by the red gates and fox statues – I love the imagery, which was the inspiration for my fox shrine pattern:

A pattern I’ve been working on recently: Inari shrine fox…. it doesn’t have a name yet (kinda want it to have “curse” in the name somewhere too for an air of mystery!) Inari shrines are my fav shrines, with the red tori gates ⛩ and fox statues! I love the imagery, and I included a cute cat mask too! The background’s based on traditional Japanese kimono patterns, which all have symbolic meanings, in hand-drawn zentangle style! Swipe to see an alternate version with the gates a bit more subtle – which do you like best? The Japan vlog I’m editing this week has a great Inari shrine in it that I visited in Kyushu, with some awesome fox statues. It’ll be up on YouTube on Thursday 🦊⛩✨ #shrine #japaneseshrine #inarishrine #kitsune #fox #狐 #japantravel #ilovejapan #japanstagram #traditionaljapan #origami #visitjapan #vectorart #patterndesign #monochrome #redblackwhite #artistsoninstagram #digitalart #illustrator #zentangle

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Fox Ema Boards at Dazaifu Inari Shrine

Fox-themed ema boards for writing your wishes

There’s lots more to do in Dazaifu beyond the shrines. We only spent half a day there, before heading to Yanagawa in the afternoon, but you could easily spend the whole day. There’s lots more to see:

  • Kyushu National Museum – which is in an amazing glass building
  • More shrines and temple to explore – including a moss garden at Komyozenji Temple
  • Dazaifu Amusement Park – The theme park we spotted from the top of the hill
  • Seasonal festivals – Special events celebrating special times of year

Yanagawa

Yanagawa is so picturesque! It’s known as the Venice of Japan, because you can take a punting trip on the waterways that used to be the castle moat. The boat trip’s about an hour long. It’s extremely relaxing, and you can take photos of beautiful canals lined with greenery and flowers. You’ll also see lots of old Japanese houses (and people’s back gardens!).

There’s a shop on the way, where you can grab an ice cream or kakigori as you float by. You can also rent traditional conical hats to keep the sun off!

The boat trip’s one way, so you can either take the bus back or walk. It’s flat and an easy 30-40 minute walk, giving you the chance to see the waterways from another angle. Stroll along quiet streets where people live and go about their daily lives is interesting in itself, giving another perspective on what life’s like in a town in Japan.

Yanagawa - Venice of Japan

For me this was the most beautiful part of the boat trip – just look at those reflections in the water!

Yanagawa, Japan

So many picturesque views

The local specialty in Yanagwa is steamed eel. It’s served in a box on a bed of rice – they don’t have a vegetarian option so I didn’t try it, but there are eel restaurants at the end of the boat trip, and you can get a ticket than includes a meal as well.

How to Get There

From Fukuoka to Dazaifu: Take the Nishitetsu line from the Nishitetsu station in Tenjin (Nishitetsu is the name of a train company – their station’s separate to Tenjin Station on the Fukuoka subway – follow the signs and you’ll find it). First go to Futsukaichi Station (15-25 mins from Tenjin), then it’s just a short ride to Dazaifu on the Dazaifu Line. As you can see in the video there’s clear signage in english showing you where to go. It’s a popular tourist attraction so they make it easy to find!

From Dazaifu to Yanagawa: Take the Tabito, a specially decorated train (with a souvenir stamp inside!) from Dazaifu to Yanawa.

From Yanagawa to Fukuoka: Take the Nishitetsu line back to Tenjin (about 50 minutes).

You can also travel easily (using the ticket below) from Yufuin, which is a popular hot springs resort town near Beppu, where we did the Beppu hells tour.

Dazaifu and Yanagawa Sightseeing Ticket

The ticket we used was the Dazaifu and Yanagawa Sightseeing Ticket from Nishitetsu railways. It included the train from Fukuoka to Dazaifu, the train to Yanagawa and the return journey, as well as the boat trip in Yanagawa. It costs 2,930 yen for adults (1,420 yen for children), which is less than the trains and boat ride would have been separately (the Nishitetsu lines aren’t covered by the JR Pass).

There are other ticket packages too, which include hot springs in Yanagawa, green tea and a rice cake, the Kyushu National Museum and various other attractions.

You can buy them from the ticket counter at Nishitetsu Tenjin Station (shown in the video). Follow signs to the platforms and it’s there, opposite the ticket gates, with an orange sign. There was an english speaker at the counter, and it was easy to buy the tickets.

More Things to Do in Kyushu and Fukuoka

Take a look at my videos for ideas for things to do in Kyushu and Fukuoka. There’s also my Japlanning series, with tips for planning your trip to Japan.

Fukuoka Bay

View of the bay from Fukuoka Tower

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