Tourist spot in Saga Prefecture

Karatsu city [唐津]

Karatsu Castle and Matsuura River
Karatsu Castle & Matsuura River

Photo: Kyushu Tourism Promotion Organization

Map around Karatsu

Karatsu is a city in the north part of Saga Prefecture.
The city faces Karatsu Bay connecting to the Sea of Japan.

It is located about 45 km northwest of Saga city, and about 55 km west-southwest of Fukuoka city.

This area was the first place where rice was cultivated in Japan about 2,500 years ago.

Of course, rice was brought from the Asian Continent.
And the history book written in China in the 3rd century introduces a small state which existed around this city at the time.

Probably, some Chinese travelers came here in the ancient times.
So this area had been the entrance of Japan in the primitive age.

In the early 17th century, Karatsu Castle was built, and this city had developed as a castle town.

And Karatsu ware (唐津焼, Karatsu-yaki) is known as Japanese pottery.
It is estimated that the beginning of the production was around the 1580s.

The central part of the city is just around the mouth of Matsuura River.

The main area is on the west side of the river, and the east side is like a sand bank.

Karatsu Castle (唐津城)

Karatsu Castle from Maizuru Bridge over Matsuura River
Karatsu Castle from Maizuru Bridge

Castle tower of Karatsu Castle
Castle tower of Karatsu Castle
Photo by

Karatsu Castle is located about 1.5 km northeast of JR Karatsu station.

There is the castle on a small hill.
The east side of the hill faces the mouth of Matsuura River and the north side faces Karatsu Bay.

The original castle was constructed by Terazawa Hirotaka (1563-1633, the warlord around this area) from 1602 to 1608.
The castle became the center of the government in Karatsu area.

After the end of feudal Edo government, all buildings of the castle was demolished by 1877.
Then, this site became Maizuru Park.

Current castle tower was restored as a museum of the city in 1966.

It is five stories high, and the top of the castle is located about 70 meters above sea level.
The highest floor is the observatory room.
We can enjoy the beautiful view of the city, Karatsu Bay.

Former Takatori Residence (旧高取家住宅)

Former Takatori Residence
Former Takatori Residence
Photo: Kyushu Tourism Promotion Organization

Western-style room in Former Takatori Residence
Western-style room in Former Takatori Residence
Photo: Karatsu Tourism Association

Takatori Koreyoshi (1850-1927) was a businessman and a coal mining engineer in Saga area.
He built this residence in 1904.

It is located by the shore about 0.6 km west of Karatsu Castle.

The building has traditional Japanese style, but there are some Western-style rooms in the building.
And, there are a tea room and a room with Noh stage.

It is designated as an important national cultural property.

Karatsu Shrine (唐津神社)

Karatsu Shrine
Karatsu Shrine
Photo: Karatsu Tourism Association

Hikiyama Tenjijo museum
Hikiyama Tenjijo museum
Photo: Kyushu Tourism Promotion Organization

Karatsu Shrine is a Shinto shrine and is located about 500 meters southwest of Former Takatori Residence.

The original shrine was founded in 755.

And it was rebuilt by Terazawa Family which was the lord of Karatsu in the early 17th century when Karatsu Castle was completed.

Since that, it had been the main shrine of Karatsu Domain.

In 1819, a man dedicated a beautiful and large papier-mache red lion statue to this shrine.

He had traveled Ise Shrine, visited Kyoto on the way home, and saw Gion Festival.
And he had been impressed by the sight of beautiful floats, so he and his friends created such statue.

The statue was paraded in the annual festival of this shrine, and it has developed into the big festival Karatsu Kunchi (唐津くんち).

From November 2 to 4, Karatsu Kunchi is held every year.

Now there are 14 floats with various papier-mache statues, and all of them are displayed during the off-season in the museum Hikiyama Tenjijô (曳山展示場) near the shrine.

Niji-no-Matsubara (虹の松原)

Photo: Karatsu Tourism Association

Forest of Niji-no-Matsubara
Forest of Niji-no-Matsubara
Photo: Karatsu Tourism Association

Niji-no-Matsubara is a pine forest along the beach.

There are about a million pine trees along the beach.
The west end of the forest is near the mouth of Matsuura River near Karatsu Castle.
The length of the forest is about 4.5 km and the width is about 500 meters.

In the early 17th century, Terazawa Hirotaka, the lord of Karatsu Castle, planted them as a windbreak to protect the new rice fields.

This forest has been managed strictly, so we can see the current beautiful scenery.

"Niji-no-matsubara" means "Rainbow Beach with the forest of pine trees".

There are the area with some seaside hotels at the west end of the beach, and it is one of the popular visiting points.

Near the center of this beach, there is Niji-no-Matsubara station of JR Chikuhi Line.

The view from the observatory floor in Karatsu Castle is good.

The best view point is the top of Mount Kagami (284 m) located about 2 km south of the beach.
Unfortunately, no route bus is operated to the top.
To visit there, you must use a taxi, rent a car, or walk up.

How to get here

From Hakata, by local train on JR Chikuhi Line, about 1 hour and 25 minutes to Karatsu, about 1 hour and 15 minutes to Niji-no-Matsubara.

From Saga, by local train on JR Karatsu Line, about 1 hour and 10 minutes To Karatsu.

From Imari, by local train on JR Chikuhi Line, about 55 minutes to Karatsu. (The train is operated every 2.5 hours.)

Other Tourist Attractions in Saga Prefecture

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