Imari is a relatively large city in north-western Saga. The town consists of around 60,000 people and is known for its pottery and agricultural products such as grapes, pears, and beef.
For a mostly rural town there are a surprising amount of metropolitan distractions such as a Best Denki, Mister Donut, and Kaitenzushi. To balance out these amenities are plenty of rice paddies and quiet temples.
There is one prefectural ALT who teaches senior high school in the area, and two private city ALTs.
Places of interest
- Okawachiyama 大川内山 – The main attraction to Imari is the small and still-functioning pottery village to the south of the city centre. The town is a pleasant place to visit if you are interested in pottery and it is situated in attractive scenery, with autumn being a particularly colourful time to visit. From the village, it is possible to hike further into the hills surrounding the town. Okawachiyama is accessible via bus from Imari station, for which a time table is provided in the tourism office (also at the train station). A taxi (costing around ￥1500-￥2000) is also a viable option as the bus is somewhat infrequent.
- Imari beach – Located about 7 miles from the city centre, the beach is accessible by car and a bus from the train station. The beach is relatively small, but the scenery is quite special and the beach is not too crowded. Information about the bus to the beach can be obtained from the tourist information office.
- Hiking trails – Koshidake is also affectionately known as Imari Fuji
Food, drink and other things to do
The city centre itself provides a surprising number of restaurants and bars. Despite the rather large presence of snack bars in the city centre (which is where you will find drunken senior high school teachers and salarymen), there are actually some unique bars that have great atmospheres and are not too expensive. In particular:
- A-Train – notable for performances by local musicians
In terms of restaurants, a visitor to Imari is well served. Along the main road in the city centre, there are countless restaurants:
- Chinese – a delicious restaurant located about 5 minutes from the station
- とき里 (Tokisato) – a local favorite well known for their tonkatsu
- Boullion – a surprisingly delicious French restaurant
Further to this, Imari is also famous for its beef. Many restaurants in Imari offer Imari beef – you will see the signs for 伊万里牛adorning many restaurants – though quality will, of course, vary. Imari also boasts a world class sake – Iwamiya stocks competition winning sake.
There is also a particular brand of Sake brewed near Imari that is famous for its connection to the mythical Kappa. Discovered hidden in a sealed box while refurbishing, a Kappa mummy has since been enshrined at the brewery and adorns the boxes and labels of the Sake. Visitors can go along to the Matsuura Brewery and take a tour of the brewery and see the mummy for themselves.
- Imari Ton Ten Ton – Imari’s local festival held in late October and lasting three days. The main event is a battle of parade floats. The festival has been particularly violent in the past, so the main battle has had some safety restrictions placed upon it in recent times. However, the general festival atmosphere is still present and the celebrations culminate in Taiko and firework displays.
- Karaoke – incredibly cheap at Manekineko and ten-pin bowling.
The town straddles the Matsuura Railway (with trains from Arita and elsewhere along the Matsuura Peninsula) and the JR Chikuhi Line which provides a direct route to Karatsu taking 50 minutes.