tourism

A Summertime Stroll Through the Streets of a Historical Machiya District

Yame Fukushima: Meet the Craftspeople Keeping Traditions Alive (1.5hr Summer Version)

Walking the streets of Yame Fukushima
Ogata Butsudan Honten (Buddhist Altar Workshop)
The Asahiya Liquor Store located inside Yame Gunyakusho
Yabeya Konomi Honke (Yame tea and sweets shop)
Ito Gonjiro Shoten, a lantern shop established in 1836

This is a shortened version of the Yame Walking Tour designed with the summer heat in mind. Through a 1km route, the course still takes guests to all the major spots of the tour. Descriptions will be given mainly in the shade and indoors.

Yame Fukushima is an area filled with tradition and home to many craftspeople who still make their livelihoods here. This course offers a unique introduction to the living history of Yame through a handpicked itinerary that takes you through streets filled with traditional architecture, inside hard-to-access Buddhist altar and paper lantern-making artisans workshops, and more. Looking for a bit to eat or souvenirs to take back home? Ask our guide for personalized recommendations!

  • Visit workshops of artisans crafting Buddhist altars, paper lanterns, and more — places not easily accessible on one’s own
  • Enjoy Yame tea and matcha sweets at Yabeya Konomi Honke, the oldest tea shop in Yame
  • Explore historical sites such as the Fukushima Castle Ruins and Hachimangu Shrine
  • Learn about the historical roots of Yame
  • A portion of the participation fee will go towards funding shrine renovation expenses and running costs of the workshops visited during the tour
Rei WatanabeGuide
Yame Fukushima has prospered as a town of merchants and craftspeople since the 1600s. Stroll streets filled with traditional architecture and take a peak into the daily life of Yame, where various trades have coexisted for centuries amidst this serene landscape.
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Creating Buddhist Altars with the Traditional Methods of Yame Fukushima: Ogata Butsudan Honten

In Yame, the craft of making Buddhist altars (known as butsudan in Japanese) is divided amongst different craftspeople, each specializing in their own process. At Ogata Butsudan Honten, they perform the “finishing” part of production; after collecting all the different parts of the butsudan, the workshop performs applies lacquer and gold leaf before putting it all together. Amidst declining numbers of craftspeople who work in the butsudan production process, Ogata Butsudan Honten is a workshop filled with craftspeople both young and old who continue to pass down butsudan-making traditions.

Ogata Butsudan Honten

A Lantern Shop Established in 1836: Ito Gonjiro Shoten

Yame is known across Japan as the largest producer of Bon lanterns, used for guiding ancestral spirits during the summer holiday of the same name. Paper lanterns made in Yame are unique, in that they are made by spiraling a long string of bamboo to form the lantern’s main body.

Ito Gonjiro Shoten crafts a wide range of lanterns for shrines, temples, festivals, and other events. With a simple design that suits a variety of environments, their lanterns not only adorn shrines and temples, but are also used in non-traditional settings such as hotel interiors, department buildings, and movie sets.

Eighth-Generation Owner, Mr. Hiroki Ito

The Namesake of Yame Tea: Yabeya Konomi Honke

A tea merchant in Yame City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Yabeya Konomi Honke is the oldest tea wholesaler in Kyushu. Founded between 1704 - 1710, the wholesaler took various teas of the region, all differing in name and quality, and branded them together as “Yame Tea.” Today, Yame Tea is a high-end strand known for its rich and sweet flavors. After taking a tea and snack break in the shop’s inner parlor, explore the inside architecture of an igura, a traditional late-Edo period townhouse.

Yabeya Konomi Honke

Testimonials of Past Participants

  • ‧It was incredible to have this experience to retrace the history of Yame and gain a deeper understanding of its traditional craft culture and architecture — all while having fun!
  • ‧I had a lot of fun on this tour, which was filled with visits to places that are usually tough to get access to. I learned so much and also got a sense of the area’s history.
  • ‧It was nice to be walk around the town in a small group and friendly atmosphere.
Tour Code GFYM02
Dates Saturdays 15:00〜 ※The tour will not be held on dates marked with (-) on the reservation form.
Duration 1.5 hours
Schedule
14:30

Registration Begins (in front of the cash register at Unagi no Nedoko Nativescape Store, Terasaki Tei)

14:50

Registration Ends

15:00

Departure from Unagi no Nedoko Terasaki Tei

Walking the Streets of Yame and Visiting Workshops
Sites include: Ogata Butsudan Honten (Buddhist Altar Workshop), Ito Gonjiro Shoten (Lantern Workshop), Yame Gunyakusho (Former County Office Building), Asahiya Liquor Store, Yabeya Konomi Honke (w/ Yame tea and sweets), Fukushima Hachimangu Shrine (exterior), Yame Machiya Community Center, and more.

16:30

Tour Finish at the Yame Machiya Community Center

Languages Japanese/English
*If you would like an English-speaking guide, please inform us at the time of reservation.
Participants Minimum 2 / Maximum 6
Meeting Location
Unagi no Nedoko Nativescape Store - Terasaki Tei
327 Motomachi, Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture 834-0031
From JR Kurume Station
Please take Bus 30 or 31 bound for Yame Bus Office (approximately 50 minutes) to the terminal station, Yame Bus Office. It is about a 20 minute walk from the bus stop to the meeting place, Shimogawa Textile.
From Chikugo-Funagoya Station (Kyushu Shinkansen)
Please take a taxi (15 minutes) to the meeting place, Unagi no Nedoko Nativescape Store.
Reservation Deadline Up to three days before the tour. For tours that have reached the minimum number of participants and are scheduled to take place, 30 minutes before the start of the tour.
Payment Method Advance payment at the time of reservation (VISA, Mastercard, Amex)
Attire Please wear comfortable clothing and accessories to stay cool, such as a sun parasol/hat, etc.
Tour Conductor (Assistant) None
Supplementary Tour Conductor The tour guide will accompany guests throughout the trip
Please Note
  • The tour will be held even in the event of rain, barring a typhoon or heavy rain advisory.
  • For those coming to the meeting location by car, please use the parking lots of either Unagi no Nedoko Nativescape Store (Terasaki Tei) or Unagi no Nedoko UNA Products Store (Marubayashi Honke).
  • We offer tea sweets made of green tea and wheat. Please notify UNA Laboratories of any allergies or dietary restrictions at the time of reservation.
  • As the craft workshops are not tourist attractions, please note that under extenuating circumstances, there may be some instances when it is not possible to enter the workshops.
  • Please note that some places on this tour contain fragile items. Please keep an eye on your child/children if you will be participating with them.
  • We advise taking out domestic travel insurance when participating in this tour.
  • Please note that the tour guide is subject to change.
  • This tour may be cancelled in the event that its smooth implementation becomes difficult due to changes in the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. In the event of cancellation, the tour fee will be fully refunded.
Cancellation Policy 3 to 1 day(s) preceding the tour start date: 50% of the tour fee
Before departure on the tour start date: 100% of the tour fee
After the start of tour or no-show: 100% of the tour fee

UNA Laboratories COVID-19 Prevention Measures

UNA Laboratories is committed to ensuring the safety of our customers, staff, and community. In accordance with municipal, national, and industry guidelines for the prevention of infectious diseases, UNA Laboratories is implementing the following measures:

  1. 1. Guides will wear a face shield during tours.
  2. 2. Guests are requested to wear a mask.
  3. 3. Hand-sanitizing alcohol will be provided.
  4. 4. We will check your temperature and general physical condition at the start of the tour. UNA Laboratories reserves the right to refuse tour participation if a customer’s temperature is over 37 degrees Celsius.
  5. 5. We strive to maintain adequate social distance throughout the tour, so the maximum number of participants will be capped at six.

Travel Planning: Implementation

  • UNA Laboratories Inc. (Fukuoka Prefectural Governor Registration #2-951)
  • 3-12-22-302 Yakuin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0022
  • TEL: 092-982-7956E-MAIL: tour@unalabs.jp
  • Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors:
    Aya Tamura, Noriko Yahata, Rei Watanabe
  • Business Hours:
    9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (Closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays)
  • *Requests received outside of business hours will be processed the following business day.
  • *Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors are responsible for transactions held at the sales office that processes customers’ travel. Please do not hesitate to contact the aforementioned Domestic Certified Travel Supervisors with any questions or concerns regarding the travel contract.

Tour Information

Dates
Saturdays 15:00〜 ※The tour will not be held on dates marked with (-) on the reservation form.
Duration
1.5 hours
Recommended Age
Suitable for All Ages
Fee
3,500yen (tax included)
Children under 6 years old: free
Children between 6 and 12 years old: ¥1,500 (tax included)