Saga Guide

Saga Prefecture

The Saga region is located in the north west of Kyushu and is bounded on the east by the Fukuoka region and on the west by the Nagasaki region. As Saga faces the Genkai Sea on the north and the Ariake Sea on the south, seasonal fresh seafood is guaranteed. As well, Saga beef is one of the top premium beefs in Japan.

Saga is best known for its pottery and popular with tourists, particularly in the towns of Karatsu, Arita and Imari. Saga also offers an amazing selection of hot springs such as Ureshino Onsen and Takeo Onsen.

Main cities and towns: Saga, Arita, Imari, Karatsu, Kashima

Things to do in Saga

Arita

Arita

Arita is a small town with white-walled 1930s buildings and picturesque narrow streets. The massive The Arita Ceramic Fair is held in Arita every year during Golden week (29 Apr – 5 May) and attracts up to a million visitors.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the porcelain produced in Arita was exported to Europe where it became very popular. The exported porcelain was shipped from the nearby port town of Imari and the porcelain which was produced in Arita became widely known as Imari Ware.

Visitor Information
  • Access:
    80mins from JR Hakata by Train
    40mins from JR Saga by Train
    25mins from JR Sasebo by Train

The Kyushu Ceramic Museum (Free Admission)
http://www.pref.saga.lg.jp/web/at-contents/kanko_bunka/k_shisetsu/kyuto/_73647.html

Kakiemon Pottery showroom (Free Admission)
http://www.kakiemon.co.jp/index.html

Karatsu

 

Karatsu is located on the Higashi Matsuura Peninsula in the north western part of the Saga region. Karatsu’s charm lies in its cultural heritage, its historical atmosphere and the warmth of the people living there.

Visitor Information
  • Access from Fukuoka:
    1hour 30mins by Express bus from Hakata bus terminal (1050yen/per way)
    1 hour by Subway from Meinohama station (820yen/per way)
  • Karatsu Tourist association: http://www.karatsu-kankou.jp/english.html
Former Takatori Residence

Former Takatori Residence (1850~1927)
In the town of Karatsu, lies the former residence of Koreyoshi Takatori, whose success was in the coal business. This fabulously restored residence, built with a mix of Japanese and Western architecture, has a Buddhist altar room, a wealth of paintings on cedar boards, a tea ceremony room and a Noh stage. The house is now designated as an important cultural asset.

Visitor Information
  • Admission fee: 500yen
  • Hours: 9:30 – 17:00 (Admission until 16:30)
  • Closed: Mondays (or the following day when it falls on a national holiday), 29 – 31 December
  • Access: 20minutes walk from JR Karatsu Station
Karatsu Castle

Karatsu Castle
Karatsu Castle was built beside Karatsu bay by Terasawa Hirotaka as a retainer for Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The construction commenced in 1602 and was completed after 7 years.

The castle area is one of the best viewing spots for cherry blossoms in late March to early April.

Visitor Information
  • Admission fee: 400yen
  • Access: 7mins by car or 20mins by walk from JR Karatsu station

Karatsu Yaki (Karatsu ware)
Karatsu-yaki is known as one of the three great tea vessels of Japan along with Raku-yaki and Hagi-yaki. It’s been loved by tea masters for centuries.

Karatsu yaki Gallery

Alpino Centre: 1 min from JR Karatsu station

Taroemon Nakazato: 7mins from HR Karatsu station
http://homepage3.nifty.com/tarouemon/main.html

Karatsu Yaki

Kashima

Kashma city is located in the southern part of the Saga region and it is famous for the production of its fine award winning sake.

Yutoku Inari Shrine
Yutoku Inari ShrineThe Shinto Shrine is located in Kashima city. It’s one of the three greatest Inari Shrines dedicated to the Inari gods of Japan, along with the Fushimi Inari and Kasama Inari Shrine.

You can walk all the way up to the top of the shrine.

Visitor Information
  • Access: 10mis by car from JR Kashima station

Hizen Hamashuku Sakagura dori (Sake Breweries Street)

Hizen Hamashuku Sakagura dori

Hizen Hamashuku is a preservation district for groups of historic buildings. It is the old shukuba town (place for travellers to rest) surrounded in a nostalgic landscape.

Hizen Hamashuku Sakagura dori

Fukuchiyo Shuzo is one of the breweries in this area where in 2011, won the grand prize at the world's largest blind wine tasting; the International Wine Challenge, for its Nabeshima Daiginjo sake


Visitor Information
  • Access: 10mins walk from JR Hizen Hamashuku

Yoshinogari

YoshinogariYoshinogari is located in Kanzaki district, a northern part of Saga.

Yoshinogari Historical Park
The Yoshinogari Ruins were discovered in 1989 and they are the largest Yayoi period (300 BC-300 AD) ruins in Japan.

Yoshinogari Historical Park provides the public with an opportunity to understand the Yayoi culture, and it is committed to developing further its knowledge and understanding of the Yayoi period in Japan.

Visitor Information

Seasonal Events & Festival

Karatsu Kunchi (2nd - 4th November)

Kuratsu Kunchi

Karatsu Kunchi Festival is an annual autumn festival of the Karatsu Shrine and has a history of about 400 years. The festival features 14 Hikiyamas (huge floats made from hundreds of layers of washi paper, linen and wood and it is covered with different types of lacquer and finished off with gold and silver leaf). The festival highlight is on 3rd November, the city echoes with sounds of the flutes and drums as each team hauls the floats through the city.

In 1980 the festival was designated as an important cultural folk asset of the nation.

For further details, please check the official link below.
http://www.karatsu-kankou.jp/en/feature/karatsukunchi/

Arita Ceramics Fair (29 April – 5 May)

This is Japan's largest ceramics market which is held every year during Golden Week and visited by porcelain lovers from all over the country for bargain prices for ceramics.

Arita is usually relatively quiet town, however the town will be packed with more than 1 million visitors in total during the event. Approximately 500 stands open along the 4-kilometer-long main road as well as a variety of events will be held.

It is a great opportunity to visit the town where traditional kilns such as Kakiemon, Imaemon, Genemon and more open the door to public during the event.

Visitor Information
  • Place: all around the town ※This event mainly takes place between JR Arita Station and Kami-Arita Station.
    Contact: Arita Chamber of Commerce and Industry, TEL: 0955-42-4111
    Official website: http://www.arita-toukiichi.or.jp/ *Japanese only

What to eat in Saga

Saga Beef
Saga beef is one of the finest quality beefs in Japan alongside Matsuzaka beef and Kobe beef.


Ika (Squid)

Ika (Squid) from Yobuko
After enjoying the fresh sashimi, the remaining parts are cooked for Tempura.


Kani (Crabs)

Kani (Crabs) from Takesaki
Male crabs are best in summer and females in winter.

Saga

Tours in Kyushu