Destinations

Kyushu’s rail network is extensive and often more convenient that driving, especially within main centers. In Kyushu, public train transportation is handled by only a few companies, with JR Kyushu and Nishitetsu being the two major ones. For information about Saga’s trains click here.

Fukuoka

What’s there? Largest city on Kyushu; domestic and international airport; Fukuoka Softbank Hawks Yahoo Dome and shopping malls (including H&M, Zara, Gap and Hard Rock Café); Kokusai Centre (sumo venue); bars, restaurants and clubs; shopping!

The train: Take the Limited Express Midori (green) or Kamome Express (white) from Saga Station. It takes about 40mins. Note that some of the trains now operating on this line are actually grey/silver in colour but are known by the same names. A local train is also available (cheaper) but takes at least twice as long. Discount ticket packs are available – see below for Ticket Information.

The main station is in Fukuoka, and terminus for these trains, is called HAKATA. And the other major subway station in the City centre is called Tenjin. Note that the subway and trains are operated independently so you must buy separate tickets.

Other stops on the way:

  • Kanzaki
  • Tosu (outlet shopping mall, Sagantosu soccer stadium)
  • Shin-Tosu (change here for the shinkansen to Hakata/Honshu or Kagoshima)

‚Karatsu

What’s there? Beaches; beautiful castle, famous pottery, the welcome party and DJ event; Karatsu Kunchi festival; plenty of ALT friends.

The train: Wan-man densha (one man train) – it’s either a single yellow diesel engine or sometimes has a second cream coloured carriage attached, depending on the time of day. This is a local line only and therefore stops at every stop. Saga to Karatsu takes about 1hour and 15mins.

Other stops on the way:

  • Saga Balloon Festa (special stop for the festival only)
  • Ogi, Taku, Ouchi
  • Kubota – the stop to change to the Karatsu line when coming from the opposite direction (Takeo, Nagasaki etc).

ƒSasebo/Huis Ten Bosch

What’s there? Huis Ten Bosch (Dutch theme park); American naval base, beaches.

The train: For Sasebo City, take the Limited Express Midori (green) from Saga Station. For Huis Ten Bosch, take the Huis Ten Bosch Express (red) from Saga Station.

Note that these trains are often joined together, but will split at Haiki. So be sure to be in the correct colour carriages before this or you could be heading to the wrong destination. Also note that now some of the limited express trains operating on this line are actually grey/silver so be sure to look out for the name and destination marked on the side of the carriages just to be sure.

Other stops on the way:

  • Hizen Yamaguchi (train junction where the Sasebo line and Nagasaki line split)
  • Takeo – the station is actually called Takeo Onsen (about 25mins from Saga City)
  • Arita (pottery capital of Japan) – about 40mins from Saga City on limited express.

Nagasaki

What’s there? Peace Memorial Park; many historical sites including Dutch-influenced buildings, Chinatown, gardens etc.

The train: Take the Limited Express Kamome (usually white or could be grey/silver) from Saga Station; it takes about 1hour and 15mins. Local trains also available but takes about 2 hours.

Other stops on the way:

  • Hizen Yamaguchi (train junction where the Sasebo line and Nagasaki line split)
  • Ariake Sky Park (huge BBQs held here from time to time; the station is actually called Hizenryuou and is available via local train only)
  • Kashima (Yutoku Inari Shrine, Gatalympics).

The map below shows every local and limited express line Saga Prefecture and surrounding areas, including the 4 main destinations identified above.

Saga Trains

Other routes

To get to Imari, catch the Limited Express Midori from Saga Station to Arita and change trains to the Matsuura Railway (a private railway company for which you will need a separate ticket).

There is also a direct train line between Karatsu and Fukuoka (Hakata), although this is a local line only.

Further afield

If you want to head further afield, Kyushu has a full shinkansen route connecting the island of Honshu (via Hakata Station) to Kyushu’s southernmost city of Kagoshima. From Saga City, get a train to Shin-Tosu (or Hakata) and change there. The route goes through Kumamoto (access to Mount Aso) and on to Kagoshima, from where you can access Kirishima volcano, Sakurajima, or travel by ferry over to Yakushima (incredible old cedar forest and world heritage area).

Of course in reverse, you can also travel easily from Kyushu to Honshu, for exampleHiroshima or Okayama area and beyond. Bear in mind that travel as far as Kyoto,Osaka or Tokyo will be expensive by shinkansen and if you have time to plan your trip in advance will probably be cheaper to fly.

To get to Oita/Beppu, first take a limited express train to Hakata and then a Limited Express Sonic to Beppu or Oita. This takes about 2 and a half hours.

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