Exploring Saga City
and Sake Street
The streets of Saga Prefecture's capital city are perfect for pleasant walks, and they serve as the backdrop to one of Saga's unique features.
Ebisu is one of the Seven Lucky Gods and he represents prosperity and wealth in business. The inhabitants of Saga are particularly fond of this god. There are about 800 statues of Ebisu scattered around Saga, making it the place with the largest number of Ebisu statues in Japan.
Start your stroll around the city from the Saga Ebisu Shrine. Located in the grounds of Yuka Shrine, its small hall features statues of Ebisu instead of the usual guardian lion-dogs. The friendly priest here is happy to share stories about the city and its favorite god.
Not far from the shrine are the ruins of Saga Castle. Here is a history museum that is a reconstruction of the castle's main keep from the Edo Period (1603-1868).
There are three hearts hidden among the castle's Shachi-no-mon gate. A stone one, a bronze one and a big ivy one. Find the hidden love while breathing the air from the past!
The streets between the castle and the train station are picturesque and filled with Ebisu statues. The statues are usually set outside of shops and businesses. You can stop by the Kaiun Saga Ebisu Station and pick up a map of all the statues, along with instructions on how to pray to Ebisu.
For a little break, stop at Hizen Tsusentei, which also features a statue of Ebisu at the front. In this peaceful tea house, you will be able to experience the sencha ceremony. Using tea from the nearby city of Ureshino and traditional Arita porcelain, learn the practice of pouring three cups of the same tea and enjoying its changing flavor.
The hospitality of Hizen Tsusentei will make you feel like time has stopped and all that matters in the world is that you enjoy your cup of tea.
Saga Prefecture is known for the production of sake. To try some of its best brands, head to Kashima City's Sakagura dori (sake breweries street) in southern Saga. Once thriving with merchants' houses, sake breweries and other shops, this area is now dotted with preserved historic buildings.
Many of the sake breweries are still here and they are open to the public with shops and sake tastings.
There are also several remains of old samurai residences that can be visited.
The remaining breweries are collaborating with local farmers and businesses to promote local products and keep traditions alive. Minematsu Brewery offers a sake tasting set with snacks made with local ingredients.
You don't need a guide to discover Sakagura dori. There are informative plaques scattered throughout the street and shop owners are always happy to strike a conversation. Walk along the street of sake and let each building tell you a story.
Saga City is one of those places that you immediately grow affectioned to. Peaceful, with pretty streets and smiling people, the entire city seems to shine with a warm light of its own.