Immediately north of Karatsu, on the border of Fukuoka Prefecture, Hamatama has a population of 10,000 people. Its scenic location, traditional festivals, and proximity to Fukuoka make Hamatama one of the most popular areas of Karatsu.
- There is one municipal ALT based in Hamatama who covers a number of elementary and junior high schools in the area.
Places of Interest
Hamata’s main attraction is the whopping great big pine forest, Niji-no-Matsubara, but it’s also worth checking out the fireworks display: it is said to be quite spectacular.
- Niji-no-Matsubara – Hamatama’s biggest claim to fame is the northern half of Niji-no-Matsubara (one of the largest pine forests in Japan). It’s a 360 year old pine forest that has a width of 400 – 700 metres, a length of about 4 km, and a total area of 240 hectares. The forest was originally planted by the feudal lord Terasawa as a counter-measure against the strong winds and tides in Karatsu Bay. Today it is a popular tourist spot, and on a list of the 100 most beautiful places in Japan.
- Hamasaki Beach – arguably a little nicer and less crowded than the main Karatsu beach, it’s fairly accessible from the Hamasaki train station. Still, expect a good crowd in the hot summer months. Popular with windsurfers and other marine sports.
- Hamatama Gion Festival – is the second best party in Tomatsu of the year. People open their homes and invite everyone to feast and drink. In the evening, men wearing loin cloths pull three enormous floats (more than three storeys tall!) through the streets. Held since 1753, in the middle of the Edo Period, it’s performed to pray for the flight of pestilence and the arrival of a bumper crop.
- Nouryou fireworks display – massive annual fireworks display on Hamasaki Beach. Usually early August.
- Waku Waku – a sort of tourist information shop it introduces people to attractive areas of Hamatama, event information and more. 922-1 Hamasaki, Hamatama Town, Karatsu City (Suwa Shrine Street). It’s closed on Thursdays.
Hamatama is on the JR Chikuhi Line. Get off at Hamasaki Station.