Region
Kyushu
Island
Kyushu
Largest City
Saga
Population
876,664

Saga

Small but prehistorically formed

Saga is the smallest prefecture on the island of Kyushu best known for its prized, and pricey, pottery.

Sandwiched between the lively cosmopolitan centers of Nagasaki and Fukuoka, Saga’s attractions are refreshingly rural. Visitors are drawn to the picturesque natural landscape, plus the hot springs that come with it, safe in the knowledge that prefecture won’t be overrun with other tourists. Still Saga’s influence spreads far and wide in the form of its world-renowned pottery which you can experience in the towns of Arita, Imari and Karatsu. Japan history-buffs could get emotional over the acclaimed preservations at Yoshinogari Park, an archeological site from the prehistoric Yayoi period, while the rice terraced fields of Hamanoura are movingly beautiful.

In 1615, Korean potter Lee Cham-Pyung discovered white kaolin clay in the mountains surrounding the town of Arita marking the beginning of Saga’s prosperous porcelain trade. Museums, galleries, kilns and workshops are dotted around the town’s quaint streets. The bi-annual ceramic fair is usually held around the end of April and again in November. It’s about a half hour to Imari, from where you visit the Okawachiyama kilns to see the pottery production in action.

Head down the coast to Karatsu, the biggest of Saga’s pottery centers, to browse the numerous ceramic stores, galleries and gardens overlooking the sea. If you’re interested in purchasing a piece, beware of the hefty price tag – one tiny teacup could you set you back as much as $150. Elsewhere, Karatsu castle up on the hill has a small museum inside or you can relax post-purchase on the pretty beach. Towards the tip of the peninsula, Yokubo fishing port offers up live squid prepped in under 30 seconds, though locals warn you shouldn’t make eye contact with it before you eat.

The Yoshinogari Historical Park dates back to the 3rd century BC and is the largest Yayoi excavation in Japan. You can learn about life during the Yayoi period, exploring the ancient ruins and buildings recreated across the settlement site.

Places to visit

Mifuneyama garden in Saga north kyushu, Japan

Mifuneyama

Flower power at this national monument park.

Autumn leaves in a garden Japan

Kunenan Mansion

An autumn leaves exclusive.


Yoshinogari Historical Park

Truly live like the locals at this park dedicated to these ancient Yayoi period ruins, going back over 2,000 years.

Other Destinations in Kyushu

Dazaifu shrine in Fukuoka prefecture

Fukuoka

Fukuoka prefecture isn't just about partying - but it's a good place to start.

Kagoshima, Japan with Sakurajima Volcano.

Kagoshima

Traditional, tropical; mystical, magical, Kagoshima is nothing short of extraordinary.

Mountain Pass in Kumamoto Prefecture

Kumamoto

Between the smoking crater of Mount Aso in the east and the isolated islands of Amakusa in the west, Kumamoto has plenty to keep you enthralled.

Takachiho gorge in Miyazaki Prefecture

Miyazaki

Miyazaki is a mountainous and mango-growing prefecture to rival Okinawa in the tropical paradise stakes.

View over Mount Unzen Hot Spring - Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture Japan

Nagasaki

Looking out to the East, Nagasaki prefecture has long been the gateway between the outside world and Japan.

Beppu, in Oita prefecture, Japan's onsen town

Oita

Bathe in hell (in a good way) in onsen-filled Oita.

Ishigaki island lagoon in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan

Okinawa

White sand beaches and crystal blue waters, jungles and rare wildcats, centuries of unique native traditions, the birthplace of karate — this is Japan’s very own tropical island paradise.