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Saga prefecture in the Northwest of Kyushu Island is famous for its beautiful nature. We introduce four cities and their attractions that appear in the popular Anime “Zombie Land Saga”.
In the Anime “Zombie Land Saga” the student Minamoto Sakura is on her way to a pop group audition, when she is killed in a car accident. Ten years later she and six other girls return from the dead as Zombies and form the pop group “Franchouchou” To save Saga prefecture, the girls must put all their energy into the band.
The city is famous for its historic castle, which is nowadays a museum. The exhibitions held there focus on Saga at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate (1853 – 1867) and during the Meiji restauration (1868). Here, you can learn about science, technologies and important personalities of feudal Saga. In the Anime, this is the place where the idol group “Franchouchou” present their crazy “zombie rap”.
Statue of Daimyo Nabeshima Naomasa
At the northern side of the castle you will come across a statue of the last Daimyo of Saga, Nabeshima Naomasa, which also appears in the anime.
Jofuku Long Life Center
Another attraction of the city is the Jofuku Long Life center. Rumor has it that about 2,200 years ago a scholar named Jofuku began to search for a magic cure to achieve eternal youth and immortality. In Jofuku Long Life Center you can find out more about the legend and the secret of a healthy and long life. 500 different kinds of healing plants are cultivated in the nearby Botanical Garden.
At the communitycenter mutsugorō hiroba(“Plaza 656”), which also appears in the anime, concerts and other events take place every Thursday. If there is nothing scheduled, the center is open for everyone to sit down and relax.
This museum was built in 1908 and used to be the office of a local coal mining company. Nowadays it is an important cultural asset of the city, but not open to the public at the moment. Nevertheless you can enjoy the old-fashioned atmosphere of the building, which is the model for Franchouchou’s residence in the anime, from the outside.
The Hometown Hall Arpino houses a tourist information center and offers a variety of events and a wide choice of typical Japanese souvenirs. Furthermore, you can rent bicycles here and therefore easily explore the region.
Nishino beach and Karatsu Castle
Listen to the sound of the waves at Nishino Beach, a place ideal for a family trip. Showers can be used for free. From the beach, you have a nice view of Karatsu Castle, which was built in 1608 by feudal lord Terasawa Shimanokami Hirotaka. It goes also by the name “Dancing crane”, because – together with the Matsubara district that stretches to the East and West - it looks like a bird which is spreading its wings.
284 m above ocean level, Kagami Mountain is a spectacular viewpoint. From here you can see the city area and Karatsu Bay, as well as Matsubara. Just be cautious when driving up the many curves by car!
Siebold no Yu
This thermal bathhouse is a nice place to stay for a while. The building is a replica of the historic original of the Taishō era (1912-1926). The spring water is of excellent quality. You can take a break in the resting area or take a stroll down the public gallery. There is free admission every year on April 1st.
How about a delicious strawberry parfait in Café Moca after taking a bath? Because it is just a five-minute-walk away from the Ureshino Onsen Bus center, it is easy to reach. The menu offers only the freshest fruits of the season.
If you prefer to eat typically Japanese desserts, Fūgestu Jō (House of Wind and Moon) is just the place for you. Here you can enjoy a great variety of traditional sweets like daichaju (a local speciality) or Matcha Castella Roll.
Kasuien Hotel and Onsen
Visitors are invited to take a bath in the hot springs complex, which includes big indoor pool and generous outdoor area. Here, you can even enjoy your bath under the open sky. The connected restaurant serves local delicacies like Saga beef.
The Kashima Gatalympics take place in the bay of Ariake every year during low tide. “Gata” derives from the Japanese word higata(mudflat). This is a sort of mud championship with unusual disciplines like gata ski, where participants have to slide over the mud on thin boards. As at the real Olympics the motto here is “Taking part is everything!” - all that matters is that you return from the games covered in mud and with a smile on your face.
If you are in Kashima, the Yūtoku Inari Shrine is a must-see. Three million people come here every year to pray for their good fortune. The magnificent main hall is especially enchanting, as it seems to melt with the changing panoramic view of the seasons in perfect harmony.
Not far from the venue of the Gatalympics you can experience a fascinating view: The Ōuo Shrine with its fire-red torii standing in the water of Ariake Bay is a popular sight-seeing spot. Normally the torii are half covered in water, but during low tide you can take a walk underneath. When planning your trip, you should keep in mind that access is limited in mid-April and October.
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