Yanagawa, the "Venice of Kyushu," captivated me with its enchanting web of canals and laid-back charm. And nestled amidst this serene beauty, lies the KAMENOI Yanagawa, a ryokan that promised a tranquil escape steeped in Japanese tradition.
From the moment we stepped inside, the ryokan's warm hospitality embraced us. Our room, a spacious haven overlooking the gently flowing river, became our sanctuary.
Sun-kissed mornings began with breathtaking views of donkobune, flat-bottomed wooden boats expertly steered by skilled boatmen, gliding like whispers through the verdant waterways.
Nature's symphony played outside our window. Mesmerized, we observed herons gracefully taking flight from their nest perched high in a tree opposite the ryokan, their white wings flashing against the azure sky.
Nearby, the nests held a silent testament to intricate engineering, woven with nature's precision. The ryokan itself became an extension of this natural harmony, its traditional architecture blending seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.
Each evening, a feast for the senses awaited us in the ryokan's tatami-matted dining hall. Exquisitely crafted dishes, a celebration of seasonal ingredients and culinary artistry, adorned our table. From melt-in-your-mouth sashimi to perfectly grilled items and delicate tempura, each bite was a vibrant exploration of Japanese flavors.
Every night, a touch of luxury graced our plates. On the first night, we had melt-in-your-mouth wagyu beef, which we grilled at the table.
The next night, we have tender stewed abalone.
Because Yanagawa is famous for their Unagi, we always had that lovely savory eel as part of our dinner. The sheer opulence of the meal, coupled with the serene ambience, transformed our dinners into unforgettable experiences.
Breakfast was held at the hall where we could help ourselves to a buffet spread, while watching life at the rivers.
Comfort extended beyond the dining hall. Our spacious room, with its two large single beds and a traditional tatami-matted section, offered ample space for relaxation. Thoughtful touches, like extra pillows and mattresses strategically placed near the bed, ensured our little one's safety and our peace of mind.
After days spent exploring the canals and soaking in the onsen's healing waters, the ryokan's free nighttime dandan noodle service was a delightful surprise. That springy Hong Kong noodles with a satisfying bite, paired with this month's choice: the fiery red Sichuan rendition. On their menu, the ryokan may rotate through the other versions. Perhaps, on a different occasion, when we revisit one of the Kamenoi ryokans, we could indulge in the lively purple sweet potato rendition, savor the nutty charm of black sesame, or relish the white sesame dan dan noodles.
The ryokan's large parking lot provided a convenient haven for our car.
KAMENOI Yanagawa wasn't just a place to stay; it was an experience, a tapestry woven with breathtaking views, exquisite cuisine, and unparalleled service.
10-1 Yashiro-machi, Yanagawa-shi, Fukuoka 832-0057 Japan
About 15 minutes by Horikawa Bus from Nishitetsu Yanagawa Station West Exit
Half-board (accommodation, breakfast, multi-course dinner) - $180 per pax per night.
Credit to Kamenoi Yanagawa for the picture of the boatman in front of Kamenoi Yanagawa, the display of the dandan noodles and the picture of the breakfast hall.