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Lots of Hidden Charms! Top 5 Sightseeing Spots in Saga

Bordered by the Ariake Sea in the south and Genkai Sea in the north, Saga is a prefecture that is located in the Kyushu region. It is a place that is filled with attractive sightseeing spots. Below are five recommended tourist destinations in Saga that you should check out.

1. Hamanoura no Tanada

The first spot on the list is a tanada (rice terrace) in Hamanoura that faces a small cove. In Japan, a country with a small land area, tanada (also known as Senmai-da or dandan-batake) is a vista that is often seen all over the country, formed according to the topography of the land. At the rice terraces in Hamanoura, the main type of rice cultivated is the famous Koshihikari. They look just like a set of stairs that extend from the coast, with slopes covered by a series of 283 small-to-large rice fields, one on top of another. The view is particularly gorgeous between mid-April and mid-May, when the rice fields are watered. The sun setting over the horizon colors the surface of the sea and the rice paddies, creating a magical geometric pattern.

1. Hamanoura no Tanada

Genkai-cho, Higashimatsuura-gun, Saga

2. Karatsu Castle

Next on the list is Karatsu Castle, which stands as the symbol of Karatsu City on the northwestern side of Saga Prefecture. When the castle was built in 1608, it was divided into Honmaru (inner citadel), Ni-no-maru (second citadel), San-no-maru (third citadel) and Sotoguruwa (the outermost enclosure). However, the castle was abandoned in 1871. The ruins of Honmaru was developed into a park, and in 1966, the castle tower was reproduced as a cultural sightseeing spot. Inside the castle tower are an exhibition room and a viewing platform, with various materials and weapons on display. The castle was renovated for its 50th anniversary in 2017, and it was reopened after renovations in July that year, drawing in many visitors right away. The view from the observation deck is also wonderful, as it includes sights of the Genkai Sea and Matsuuragata.

Castle entrance fee: 410 JPY/adult, 200 JPY/elementary or junior high school students, Free/preschool students

2. Karatsu Castle

8-1 Higashi-jonai, Karatsu-shi, Saga

3. Niji-No-Matsubara

Stretching from the coast of Karatsu Bay, Niji-No-Matsubara (Rainbow Pine Grove) is a forest of pine trees that has been designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty in Japan. There are about 1 million black pine trees planted over the land that measures approximately 4km in length and 500m in width, creating this picturesque view of a rainbow-like arc set along the blue sea and white sand. It is said that this forest goes back to the early 17th century, when the first feudal lord of Karatsu planted black pine trees on the sand dunes in order to serve as protection against winds and tides at the coastline.

3. Niji-No-Matsubara

Hamatama-machi, Karatsu-shi, Saga

4. Yobuko Ohashi Bridge

Yobuko Ohashi Bridge is a large bridge measuring approximately 728m in length that connects Yobuko in the Karatsu City mainland with Kabeshima Island. It is known for its elegant and dynamic shape that gently curves, making it look like it is lined with harps. From Kaze-no-Mieruoka Park at the top of the hill in Kabeshima Island, you can catch a glimpse of the stunning view that is created by the contrast of Yobuko Ohashi Bridge and the surrounding islands against the blue sea and sky.

4. Yobuko Ohashi Bridge

Kabeshima, Oaza-Tononoura, Karatsu-shi, Saga

5. Daikozenji

The last spot on the list is Daikozenji, an ancient temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism that was built in 717. The principal object of worship at this temple is the standing wooden statue of the 11-faced Kannon. Two standing statues of deities called Komoku and Tamon, which have been designated as National Important Cultural Properties, are housed in the Kokuho-den (National Treasure Hall). Meanwhile, the Daikozenji Chigirien, an approximately 75,000sq.m. garden behind the Hondo (Main Hall), is a famous garden where you can enjoy natural scenery in every season. In April and May, it is known as a spot blanketed by 50,000 azalea plants, while in November and December, it transforms into a spot for viewing splendid autumn foliage.

Daikozenji Chigirien Entrance Fees:
During the azalea season (April and May) and foliage season (November and December): 500 JPY/adult, 300 JPY/elementary and junior high school student
During other seasons: 300 JPY/adult, 100 JPY/elementary and junior high school student

5. Daikozenji

3628 Oaza-Sonobe, Kiyama-cho, Miyaki-gun, Saga

To get to Saga Prefecture, you can use the Kyushu Saga International Airport, hop on a JR train, or take the bus from Fukuoka or Nagasaki. Getting around the prefecture is easier with a car, so renting a car at the airport is also recommended.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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