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SAGA Prefecture

Area: 2,439 km2
Population: 5,090 million
Region: Kyushu
Capital: Saga

photo by zaimoku_woodpile

Saga Prefecture is a prefecture in the northwest part of the island of Kyushu, Japan. It touches both the Sea of Japan and the Ariake Sea. The western part of the prefecture is a region famous for producing ceramics and porcelain, particularly the towns of Karatsu, Imari, and Arita. The capital is the city of Saga.

SAGA CITY
Saga City is located in the southeast portion of Saga Prefecture. It borders the Ariake Sea to the south and Fukuoka Prefecture to the southeast and north. The northern half of the city contains the Sefuri Mountains.

Standing out from many cultural assets is the plains castle within the city, Saga Castle. It is one of the rare castles in Japan surrounded by a wall rather than built on one. It is the largest reconstruction of a wooden building in Japan, with a total floor space of 2500 square meters and the historical atmosphere of the Saga Castle main keep.

Kakurintei Tea House located in the grounds of Kono Koen is a very quaint and picturesque Japanese tea house overlooking a pond.

You can take a bike ride on the converted ruins of the JR Saga Line . Bikes can be rented conveniently close to Saga Station. You may need a map to get your way to the entrance of the bike trail, but after that it's a quiet ride southeast under sakura trees, past the remains of old train stations, that leads you straight to Saga's arguably most famous structure: the Chikugo River Lift Bridge.

Every fall Saga holds the "Saga International Balloon Fiesta" in the dry riverbed of the Kase River. A quarter of the visitors are from Saga. Hot Air Balloonists from many countries enter this event.
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO SEE
Saga is blessed with natural beauty. Plenty of flowers and trees bloom all over Saga, presenting a variety of seasonal impressions.
With its natural beauty, rich history, plentiful hot springs and exciting festivals Saga has so many things to offer visitors.

The Yoshinogari Historical Park. in Kanzaki Town is the largest ditch-surrounded settlement of the Yayoi period in Japan and is divided into four zones: the Entrance Zone, the Ancient Forest Zone, the Moat-Encircled Zone and the Ancient Field Zone. This is a place where visitors can gain first hand experience of the Yayoi period.

Yutoku Inari Shrine in Kashima City is one of the three greatest Inari shrines in Japan. It is popular amongst local people and has been given the moniker of "Yutoku-san". The contrast of the vivid vermillion color of the buildings with the surrounding greenery is impressive. The main architecture, including the main shrine, the front shrine and the two-storied gate, is all lacquered.
At a shrine, visitors can draw a fortune slip. Fortune slips tell people if they are going to have good or bad luck.

Karatsu, with its fine castle, is a popular tourist destination in Saga. The remains of a Yayoi village in Yoshinogari also attract large numbers of sightseers. Another place to visit is Yūtoku Inari Shrine, one of Japan's three biggest Inari shrines.

Arita, Imari and Karatsu are famous for the beautiful porcelain that is created there. The top porcelain houses in the country are located in these areas, including Imaemon Porcelain, Genemon Porcelain and Fukagawa Porcelain.
GETTING THERE
By plane
Saga Airport is small but has daily flights to Tokyo (Haneda) and Osaka (Itami).
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday it also has flights to Shanghai (Pudong). From the city it takes about 30mins by bus.
Buses also connect Fukuoka Airport to Saga. This option to travel via Fukuoka is much more practical unless you need to use Saga Airport

By train
Saga is a stop on the JR Nagasaki Line.
Limited express train services run from Hakata station in Fukuoka twice each hour including the Kamome and Midori train services. Trains run directly to Saga in about 40 minutes.
From Nagasaki to Saga it takes 75-90 minutes on the limited express, or about 2 1/2 hours on the local service. From Sasebo it is about 65 minutes by limited express or about 100 minutes by local.
CLIMATE/ TEMPERATURE
Saga has a humid subtropical climate that is mild with no dry season, constantly moist (year-round rainfall). Summers are hot and muggy with thunderstorms. Winters are mild with precipitation from mid-latitude cyclones. Seasonality is moderate.

In the winter time records indicate temperatures by day reach 10.7°C on average falling to 2.1°C overnight.
In spring time temperatures climb reaching 19.9°C generally in the afternoon with overnight lows of 9.7°C
During summer average high temperatures are 30.2°C and average low temperatures are 22.1°C.
Come autumn/ fall temperatures decrease achieving average highs of 23.3°C during the day and lows of 13.7°C generally shortly after sunrise.
WHAT TO WEAR
During summer, you should be fine if you wear a short-sleeved shirt, t-shirt or a dress, however a long sleeved shirt is highly recommended if you choose to go near water or to the mountains.
In the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes such as winter coat or jacket, hat, scarf and gloves.
For the spring and autumn a light jacket or a sweater should keep you warm.
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