Sunday, August 2, 2020

Karatsu Castle, Saga Prefecture, Kyushu

One of the most amazing locations in all of Kyushu is without a doubt the Karatsu Castle.  It is located on an island overlooking the Karatsu Bay with the Black Pine Forests of Niji no Matsubara in close proximity.  Everything about this place screams Japanese!  The history, the culture the architecture and of course its purpose, to crush any uprising and discontent in the ranks of its people and rival factions.

The original castle was built in 1608 by Terazawa Hirotaka, the first lord of the Karatsu Domain. The present castle keep tower was newly built in 1966 and you can overlook the Niji No Matsubara Pine Grove and the Karatsu Bay as well as the downtown area of Karatsu City from the top floor.

The castle tower reopened after renovation in July, 2017. The history and culture of Karatsu City is exhibited with AR (Augmented Reality) equipment in the new exhibition room.  This room showcases Samurai arms and armor including swords as well as the regions famous ceramic wares which are well known throughout Japan.  In fact, I spent as much time checking out all the displays, even more than the actual view from the tower, which is a rarity for me.

Karatsu Castle is also well known as a viewing spot for cherry blossoms and wisteria during Spring.  In the photos provided, my visit with my son was in summer, so i will attempt to return again next year in spring to check out the flowers and colors of this time of year.

Karatsu Castle is located approx. an hours drive away from Fukuoka and is an amazing place to visit on a Day Tour or as package 2 or 3 day tour of Kyushu Island.  I am sure you won`t be disappointed even if you are here for just an hour because your time here will satisfy all your sightseeing needs.

Please check out Karatsu Castle here on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Please check out these video below to see more information about Karatsu Castle:

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Canal City: Fukuoka City

Canal City located conveniently in Fukuoka City is one of our go to places especially on our walking tours of the City.  Apart from the usual shops and excellent shopping experience the area has 2 things that makes it an interesting and unforgettable experience.

The first is the fountain display performed every hour.  It really is a show stopper!  Everyone will stop what they are doing and take a few minutes of of their day to see a unique and extremely pleasurable experience. I have included a video below for you to check out.

The other amazing experience and it is a culinary one, is to go to the top floor, called Ramen Stadium, to partake in Fukuoka`s speciality, that being Tonkotsu Ramen.  For those in the know, Tonkotsu, is a type of soup that is produced from boiling pork bones at a very low temperature for a long period of time.  The taste is very intense and is regarded as the 5th flavor, that being Umami. It is the go to Ramen in these parts of Japan.

There are many vendors available, so you will be able to choose which Ramen and which shop takes your fancy.  Our private tours usually end up here at lunchtime and I can tell you that there haven`t been any disappointed customer so far.

Even if you don`t partake in any of our tours I would still recommend that you come here and check out the hype for yourself.

Check out Canal City here on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Very picturesque

Lots of Ramen bowls

The fountain area

Just some of the ramen options

Japanese Decor

Well signed for tourists

Plenty of other food options

An iconic image in Fukuoka

Ramen regions of Japan

Many Ramen options here

You won't be disappointed

Please click on the videos below to see more about the hourly fountain display and the Ramen Stadium.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Floating Torii Gates of Oouo Shrine, Saga Prefecture: Kyushu

There is this attraction in the middle of Saga Prefecture, away from any major highway and city center that is gathering a rather lot of attention these days.  It is called Oouo Shrine and a site that I have visited many times because of its uniqueness and incredible scenery it possesses.

The Shrine has 3 Torii gates that are strategically placed from the shoreline out into the picturesque and highly productive seaweed producing Ariake Sea.  At high tide all 3 gates are covered with water at various depths, whilst at low tide one can wander around and fully inspect each Torii Gate and get a feel of what a 6 meter tidal range really means from an environmental and nature point of view.

Although I have been here 3 or 4 times previously for some reason it is always at low tide.  Not that I am complaining because low tide obviously allows for more exploring and a chance to stretch ones legs after a drive of some sorts from the previous attraction.  However for comparison sake, I would love to have some high tide photos and videos because in reality one doesn`t know what kind of tide that they will get on the day so we just have to take the results in our stride.

Just in case you were wondering, even though this location is getting more and more popular, don`t worry, you will never feel crowded or unable to find a car park.  As a result of its very rural location hardly more than a trickle of sightseers and or cameramen are here at any onetime.

Please click here to see the Oouo Shrine on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Plenty of shells to observe.

Offerings a plenty

A truly scenic spot

An instagrammers paradise

Wide open coastline


The 3 red gates.

At low tide!

Please click on the videos below to see more about this incredible attraction.