VIDEO| Catch the iconic goldfish lanterns on Yanai’s white-walled historic street

VIDEO| Catch the iconic goldfish lanterns on Yanai’s white-walled historic street

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Yanai City, is within a short drive from MCAS Iwakuni, and here you’ll be transported into old Japan.

The town was established as a merchants’ town and was an important stop throughout the feudal age. Today, the town’s “Shirakabe no Michi” or white-walled street, preserves the historical merchant houses and architectural elements including lattice doors, paper-covered windows and, of course, the white walls of the buildings.

As you stroll through the district, you’ll notice many cartoonish goldfish lanterns hanging from the eaves of the buildings. Back in the old days, parents would make lanterns out of paper and bamboo for their children to participate in the summer festival. The goldfish-shaped lantern tradition, however, was actually started by the local merchants about 150 years ago!

Today, the goldfish lantern is a symbol of Yanai and one of the popular handicrafts. This symbol is even the center of the local festival held every summer on August 13. Yanai’s Kingyo Chochin Matsuri, or goldish lantern festival, lights up the streets of the town with close to 30 giant goldfish lantern floats parading and over 4,000 goldfish lanterns hanging from eaves.

After the festival, the lanterns hanging from the eaves are lit up at night for a beautiful evening stroll.

The area also has a couple of museums to get your history on. Check out the Shirakabe Gakuyukan Folklore Museum where you’ll learn more about the town’s history and affinity for goldfish lanterns. And make plans for the Kanro Shoyu Soy Sauce Museum where you can sample the famous local condiment.

Kisaka Shobundo Stationery Shop in the district offers various paper products featuring the beloved goldfish symbol. Another cool spot is Fujiyama Coffee Roasters for a nice coffee-flavored kakigori shaved ice or a cup of joe to take a break from the summer heat.

If you want to create a cute goldfish paper lantern for souvenir, visit Yanai Saizo Workshop where you can handmake one with guides of instructors.

Yanai is a beautiful city with unique tradition of goldfish lanterns. It’s only a short 45-minute drive from MCAS Iwakuni, so make sure to plan a visit soon!

Yanai City
Location: 3714-1 Yanai, Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Tel: 0470-80-1146 (Yanai Tourist Association)

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