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Saga

A prefecture of ceramics colored by the cultures of the Asian Continent. The site of Yoshinogari Remains featuring a reconstructed ancient colony with a 12-meter tall watchtower
Saga is located in the northwestern part of Kyushu. The shoreline of the Higashi-Matsu-ura-hanto Peninsula facing the Genkai-Nada (the Sea of Genkai) is a saw-toothed coast with many outlying islets sitting in the offing. In the prefecture are many nature-rich places to visit, like Niji-no-matsubara (Rainbow Pine Grove) with a Japanese black pine forest arcing 5 kilometers from east to west along Karatsu Bay. Nanatsu-gama known for a row of sea-eroded caverns created by the raging waves of the Genkaki-Nada is another place worth visiting.

Thanks to its location facing the Korean Peninsula with the Sea of Japan in between, Saga was an important point of trade with the continent and had been influenced by the Chinese and Korean cultures since early times. Even now, you can witness such influences at places like the Tashiro-Ota Mound in Tosu City known for an ancient color picture-decorated grave. The site of Yoshinogari Remains, featuring a reconstructed complex of a 12-meter tall watchtower and an ancient colony, is said to be where Yamatai-Koku, a primitive polity of Japan mentioned in an ancient Chinese history book Gishi-wajin-den, stood, and has attracted more than 10 million visitors since its discovery in 1989.

Boasting many potteries, Saga has been known as the home of ceramics, like Arita-yaki, that have grown as chinaware enameled with color pictures, Imari-yaki and Karatsu-yaki long loved by masters of ceremonial tea, since Korean-descended potters from the Li Dynasty opened the first kilns there.

Getting there
An hour and 45 minutes to Fukuoka Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport; one hour and 15 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Five minutes from Fukuoka Airport to Hakata Station by subway. Four hours and 50 minutes to Hakata Station from Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line; 2 hours and 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station. Thirty-seven minutes to Saga Station from Hakata Station by the JR Nagasaki Main Line Limited Express.
 

  • Arita and Imari
    Arita - Cradle of Porcelain Manufacture in Japan, Imari - Intermediary for East-West Exchange
    Arita, the cradle of porcelain manufacture in Japan, is a quiet town among mountains, located in a western part of Saga. Ri Sampei (Korean name, Lee Cham-Pyung), a potter from Korea, discovered a fine-quality white porcelain mineral in Mt. Arita-Izumi-yama. This was the beginning of Arita's development into an internationally known town of porcelain. A monument in memory of Ri Sampei stands in the Toyama-jinja Shrine, the chief tutelary shrine of Arita.

    White-walled houses originating in the 1930's and old Western-style buildings are still present in Akae-machi where many potters once lived. At the back of these, there are Tonbai fences made of used fireproof bricks and old-fashioned potteries. Pottery and porcelain lovers must visit the Kyushu Toji-bunkakan (ceramic museum), and the Arita Toji (ceramic) Museum near Arita Station where they can see exquisite pottery and porcelain pieces.

    Imari, located on the coast of Imari Bay lying between the Higashi Matsu-ura-hanto Peninsula and the Kita Matsu-ura-hanto Peninsula, is a fine natural port and was once an intermediary for East-West exchange of porcelain. Remnants of the good old days still exist in O-kawachiyama, a secluded pottery center in the mountains. In the 17th and 18th centuries, top-quality gift pieces for the Imperial Court and Shoguns were manufactured there. Accordingly, the porcelain manufacturing method and potters were under very strict management.

    Getting there
    An hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Fukuoka Airport. An hour and 15 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Five minutes by subway from Fukuoka Airport to Hakata Station. Four hours and 50 minutes from Tokyo Station to Hakata Station by train on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen and Sanyo Shinkansen Lines. Two hours and 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station. An hour and 30 minutes from Hakata Station to Arita Station by a Limited Express on the JR Main Nagasaki Line and Sasebo Line. Twenty minutes from Arita Station to Imari Station on the Matsu-ura Tetsudo Line.

     

  • Karatsu and Yobuko
    Strange-shaped Rocks and Caves Formed By the Power of Raging Waves - Pottery Center Once Prosperous as a Whaling Base
    Karatsu and Yobuko-machi, located on the Higashi Matsu-ura-hanto Peninsula in a northwestern part of Saga, were prosperous from ancient times as an important point for trade with Mainland China.

    Karatsu has many scenic spots including Niji-no-matsubara stretching along the coast and the Tategami Rocks and Nanatsu-gama carved by the raging waves of the sea of Genkai. Nanatsu-gama is a cliff formed by the raging waves, having a chain of caves called Kaishokudo at its foot. Sightseeing boats starting from Yobuko go through some of these caves. Karatsu is also noted for Karatsu pottery. Most of the forty or so potteries in the city are open to tourists.

    Yobuko was once prosperous as a whaling base. The watchtower for whales and the memorial monument for captured whales on Ogawa-shima Island are among the remnants of the heyday of whaling. A well-known morning market is held at Yobuko Port crowded with regular-service vessels and fishing boats. With the lights of fishing boats flickering at night, it has a lively air typical of a fishing port. A wide variety of fresh fish and dried fish are sold at the morning fair. Tourists can taste fresh delicacies of the sea.

    Getting there
    An hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Fukuoka Airport. An hour and 15 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Five minutes by subway from Fukuoka Airport to Hakata Station. Four hours and 50 minutes from Tokyo Station to Hakata Station by the JR Tokaido - Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Two hours and 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station. An hour and 30 minutes from Hakata Station to Karatsu Station on the JR Chikuhi Line.

     

  • Takeo and Ureshino-onsen Hot Springs
    Hot springs with hot water gushing out of crevices in the sandstone - A village for porcelain, crowded with pottery lovers
    Both Takeo and Ureshino are located in the western part of Saga Prefecture, near the boundary between Saga and Nagasaki Prefectures. Takeo-onsen is a hot spring town, located at the foot of Mt. Horai-san, full of strange rocks and bizarre stones. The town has a history of more than 1,200 years and is known for its water quality that makes the skin smooth. At the entrance of the public bath in the center of this hot spring resort, there stands a red tower gate built in the shape of Ryugujo, a castle in the sea in a fairy tale.

    Ureshino is a town, famous for its green tea, surrounded by mountains. The green of the tea fields gently spreading out at the foot of these mountains is refreshing. There are about sixty inns lined up in Ureshino-onsen in which hot springs gush out from crevices in the sandstone along the Ureshino-gawa River. Neon lights in the town are turned on at night, and the quiet rural landscape of daytime changes into an urbane and showy night scene.

    Getting there
    Fukuoka Airport is 1 hour 45 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport, and 1 hour 15 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Hakata Station is 5 minutes from Fukuoka Airport by subway. Hakata Station is 4 hours 50 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line, and 2 hours 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station. Hakata Station is 1 hour 10 minutes from Takeo-onsen Station by the JR Nagasaki Honsen Line and Sasebo Line Limited Express. Then take a bus from Takeo-onsen Station to Ureshino-onsen, which takes about 30 minutes.

     

  • Yoshinogari Remains
    Ringed-dugout Settlement -- Mystery of Ancient Age - Restored Pit Dwellings, Watchtower and High-floor Storehouses
    The Yoshinogari-Remains lie on the spacious hilly area in Kanzaki-machi, Mitagawa-machi and Higashi-Seburi-mura of Kanzaki-gun in the northeastern part of Saga. Remains of a ringed-dugout settlement presumably dating back to the 3rd century B.C. were unearthed there, and excavation is still under way at the site. They are among the largest-scale remnants in Japan.

    More than 2,600 tombs containing pot coffins, a tomb mound under which large pot coffins were unearthed, remains of pit dwellings, high-floor storehouses, and many others were found at the site. These remnants match the description of things of Yamatai-Koku governed by the queen Himiko in the Chinese history book entitled Gishi-wajin-den of the 3rd century. The assertion that "the origin of Japan lies in northern Kyushu" attracted attention.

    Four pit dwellings, two high-floor storehouses and a watchtower, which gave rise to the controversy over Yamatai-Koku, have been restored. In the Tomb Mound Museum located to the north of the ringed-dugout settlement, the largest tomb mound in Japan extending 26 meters east and west and 49 meters north and south as unearthed is displayed. It gives visitors an idea of the grand scale of the remnants. Articles unearthed at the site and models are exhibited in the Yoshinogari Exhibition Hall.

    Getting there
    An hour 45 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Fukuoka Airport. An hour 15 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Five minutes by subway from Fukuoka Airport to Hakata Station. Four hours 50 minutes from Tokyo Station to Hakata Station by train on the JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line. Two hours 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station. Fifty-six minutes from Hakata Station to Yoshinogari Koen Station on the JR Nagasaki Honsen Line.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

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