Saga Prefecture

Ceramics culture in Karatsu, Imari and Arita

 By Georgina Young   Nov 3, 2011

Nestled between the more popular Fukuoka and Nagasaki prefectures, Saga is a prefecture in the north of Kyushu that is often underrated and overlooked. For those travelling around Japan, Saga is often a blurred view as you travel on the Limited Express between these two larger prefectures but I urge you that Saga is one prefecture you don’t want to miss out on.

Saga for the Great Outdoors

Saga’s beauty is hard to ignore which is why 11% of Saga has been dedicated to natural parks. Ogi Park was voted one of the 100 best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan and it’s easy to see why. Shinrin Park in Saga City is perhaps the finest urban park. Saga is one of the few prefectures where surf meets ski. Karatsu offers some of the best surf in the whole of Kyushu by Seaside Cafe Jammin', while Tenzan Ski Resort offers you an all together more alpine experience. Asides from all this, Mount Sefuri the largest mountain in the Sefuri Mountain Range, is a great climb taking 2½ - 3 hours from the base, giving great views of this stunning prefecture. Nearby Mt. Kana's peak looks over Fukuoka City.

Saga for Culture

Saga is known for it’s stunning pottery, particularly in the towns of Karatsu, Arita and Imari. These towns frequently offer tours where one can see the pottery and even paint their own. Saga and Karatsu castles, as well as the ruins of Nagoya Castle and its museum of Korea-Japan exchange, offer great views while letting you in on the prefectures history. Fine shrines include Matsubara Shrine and Yutoku Inari Shrine, one of Japan’s three largest Inari shrines. Saga also offers an amazing selection of hot springs from the famous Ureshino onsen town in the south of the prefecture arguably one of the best onsens in Japan to the less famous but equally enjoyable Takeo Onsen. You can also take a trip back to ancient history at Yoshinogari Historical Park.

Saga for Festivals

Whether it’s Saga’s infamous Hot Air Balloon Festival that takes your fancy, or Karatsu’s Kunichi’s stunning parade, someone visiting Saga during it’s festival season (October-November) will not be disappointed. Kashima Gatalympics is also held annually, a sort of mini Olympics on Saga’s mud flats, as well as Imari Ton-Ten-Ton, one of Japan’s 3 great fighting festivals.

Saga for Food

Saga is packed with cuisine from all over Japan, from firm favourites such as sushi and okonomiyaki to Saga’s famous mentai (cod roe) which can and will be served with everything. Mochi and mandarins are produced in the thousands here, and Saga beef is some of the most delicious in Japan. Try it in one of Saga’s many shabu shabu or yakiniku restaurants.

Saga in Video

Visit our prefectural YouTube channel for moving sights and sounds of Saga.

So now that you know a little bit more about this great prefecture, I hope that you are encouraged to pay us a visit. You are sure to be met with a warm welcome.

Written by Georgina Young
Japan Travel Member

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