The surprising size and scale of the Saga Castle main keep. Structures found there truly instill a sense of its long history.
The city of Saga in Kyushu is the seat of the Saga prefectural government. It faces the Ariake Sea on the south and is home to Saga Airport. In the center of the city is the Saga Castle History Museum, which also serves as the city's symbol. The castle itself is no longer standing, but the main keep has been reconstructed, resulting in one of the largest wooden structures in Japan. Its size and scale are quite surprising, and inside can be found a 45-meter-long 'tatami' corridor and a 320 'tatami' mat hall (about 528 square meters). Near the history museum is the Saga Prefecture Office, and from the observatory hall on the 12th floor, you can enjoy a magnificent view of a part of moat running through the castle, as well as the entire city.
As you walk around the city, you can visit five structures that have been preserved as historical folk customs museums, all of which impart a sense of the city's long history. In addition to old samurai residences, urban houses, and constructions of 'kurazukuri-style' (warehouse style) built during the Meiji Era (the latter half of the 1800s), there is an old brick building that once served as a bank but nowadays is home to a retro cafe called the "Romanza." In addition, there are districts throughout the city that impart a sense of its long history, such as the Yaemachi district, which remains much like it was during the days of the Nabeshima clan that played a part in promoting the Meiji Restoration.
If you travel to the city of Saga, a place that you must visit is the Yoshinogari Historical Park. It is the ancient ruin of a moated village said to date back to the Yayoi Period (3rd century BC to 3rd century AD), where the history of those ancient times unfolds in the huge park of rich nature.
In addition, from around the end of October to the beginning of November, the Saga International Balloon Festival is held. The main site is located along the Kase-gawa River, and every year nearly100 hot-air balloons join in and more than 1 million people gather to enjoy the spectacle.
The Ariake Sea, located in the southern part of the city, features the largest dry beach in Japan, and is a well-known habitat of unusual fish and shellfish. Enjoy famous seafood featuring 'mutsugoro (mudskipper)' and shellfish such as 'tairagi (jumbo mussels),' or feast upon a high quality Saga beef steak.
[Air] 1h 50 min from Haneda to Saga Airport, and 35 min from the airport to the city.
[Rail] 6h from Tokyo via Hakata to Saga Station by JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen Lines.
[Rail] 37 min from Hakata to Saga Station by JR Line (limited-stop express).