Japan travel: 12 things to do in Saga prefecture, Kyushu
Away from the Japan-bound crowd
Saga Prefecture is located in the northwestern part of Kyushu, the third-largest island in Japan—after Honshu, or the main island, and Hokkaido. The prefecture is known for its picturesque landscape, rich history, and cultural heritage.
6 new hotels to stay in “Little Kyoto” Kanazawa, Japan
Japan travel: 11 things to do in Hiroshima
Japan travel: 15 things to do in Tokyo
Japan travel: 13 things to do in Hokkaido
Japan travel: 10 things to do in Osaka
Japan travel: 10 things to do in Kyoto
Bordered by Fukuoka Prefecture to the east, Nagasaki Prefecture to the west, and Kumamoto Prefecture to the south, Saga Prefecture has a population of approximately 830,000 people. The majority of the population resides in the prefectural capital of Saga City. Other major cities in Saga Prefecture include Karatsu, Tosu, and Imari.
The prefecture has a long and storied history, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Jomon period (14,000-300 BCE). Saga played a significant role in the Sengoku period (1467-1568), during which powerful warlords like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu fought for control of Japan.
The region is famous for its porcelain production, with Imari porcelain being highly sought after both in Japan and abroad. Saga Prefecture is also known for its natural beauty, including the expansive Mifuneyama Rakuen garden and the stunning Yoshinogari Historical Park, which features reconstructed ancient dwellings and artefacts.
Saga Prefecture is easily accessible by train, with the Kyushu Shinkansen running through it, connecting it to other major cities in Kyushu, including Fukuoka and Kumamoto. Additionally, Saga Airport provides domestic flights to and from other parts of Japan.
If you want to explore Japan outside of touristy cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, consider giving Saga Prefecture a shot. Here are 12 things to do in Saga Prefecture.
1. Visit the Yoshinogari Historical Park
Located in Yoshinogari Town, this park is an important archaeological site and museum that features the remains of a Yayoi period (300 BC to 300 AD) settlement. You can see reconstructed buildings and artefacts from the time period.
2. Explore the Karatsu Castle
This historic castle was built in the 17th century and is one of the few remaining original castles in Japan. You can climb to the top of the castle for great views of the surrounding area.
Kahan no Yado Karatsu Castle from S$119.75 per night
3. Enjoy the Karatsu Kunchi Festival
This festival is held annually in Karatsu City in November and features colourful floats, traditional music, and dancing. It is one of the largest and most famous festivals in Saga Prefecture.
4. Try some local cuisine
Saga Prefecture is known for its delicious food, including fresh seafood, rice dishes, and beef. Some local specialities to try include karashi renkon (lotus root with Japanese mustard), Saga beef, and squid sashimi.
Jap Farm Experience from S$14.85
5. Take a dip at the onsens like Takeo Onsen and Ureshino Onsen
Takeo Onsen at Takeo City is one of the oldest hot springs in Japan and is said to have healing properties. There are several traditional ryokans in the area where you can stay and enjoy the hot springs.
Takeo Onsen Kyotoya, from S$128.30 per night
Central Hotel Takeo Onsen, from S$108.97 per night
Ureshino Onsen at Ureshino City is known for its high-quality hot spring water that is believed to have numerous health benefits. The town features traditional Japanese inns, outdoor hot spring baths, and foot baths that provide a relaxing and rejuvenating experience for visitors.
Ureshino Onsen Kappo Ryokan Ritoen, from S$317.39 per night
The Hamilton Ureshino, from S$329.87 per night
6. Explore the porcelain towns Imari and Arita
Imari is famous for its porcelain, and you can visit the Okawachiyama Village to see traditional pottery-making techniques and purchase beautiful ceramics.
Known for its exquisite pottery and porcelain, Arita has been producing high-quality ceramics since the 17th century and has a rich cultural history of pottery-making.
Pottery Experience in Arita from S$19.80
7. Visit the shrines like Ouo Shrine and Yutoku Inari Shrine
If you love the floating torii gate at Miyajima, Hiroshima, consider Ouo Shrine in Tara Town a smaller scale and less crowded version. It even has three torii gates in the sea—definitely Insta-worthy.
Yutoku Inari Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Kashima City. It is dedicated to Inari, the god of fertility, agriculture, and foxes. The shrine is known for its beautiful red torii gate and stunning natural surroundings. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area.
Yutoku Inari Shrine Tour from S$69
8. Catch the autumn colours at Kankyo Geijutsu no Mori Park and Mifuneyama Rakuen
Made up of a 20-hectare forest with 10,000 maple trees, Kankyo Geijutsu no Mori Park in Karatsu City turns into a beautiful display of rich and warm hues come autumn. Also known as the Forest of Environmental Art, it was created over three decades by environmental artists to preserve the beauty of nature.
Mifuneyama Rakuen is a Japanese garden in Takeo City, home to over 500,000 square meters of flora and fauna. It is renowned for its beautiful autumn leaves and its integration of traditional Japanese culture into its landscape design.
Mifuneyama Rakuen Hotel from S$406 a night
9. See the rural side of Japan at Hamanoura Rice Terrace
Hamanoura Rice Terrace is a scenic agricultural area located in Genkai Town. It features stunning landscapes of terraced rice paddies that stretch out over a vast area, surrounded by natural forests and hills.
10. Go flower-watching at Uranosaki Station
Uranosaki Station is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in Imari City. The cherry blossom trees create a beautiful tunnel of pink flowers along the train tracks leading to Uranosaki Station.
11. Marvel at the balloons at Saga International Balloon Fiesta
Saga International Balloon Fiesta is an annual hot air balloon festival held at the beginning of November every year just outside Saga City. It features hundreds of balloons in various shapes and sizes, and is one of the largest hot-air balloon events in Asia.
12. Go shopping at Tosu Premium Outlets
A large shopping mall located in Tosu City, Tosu Premium Outlets features over 150 luxury brand stores, restaurants, and cafes, as well as a food court and children's play area.
Check airfare here: Skyscanner | Trip.com | Expedia
Book accommodations and activities here: Agoda | Booking.com | Klook | KKday | HotelsCombined
Save big, get the all-inclusive pass & explore your destination in-depth: GoCity
General info here: Tripadvisor
Affordable data plans here
And while you are at it, get your travel insurance with Alliance Assistance | Income | Prudential!