Shiroishi

Shiroishi is a sprawling city of around 20,000 people on a flat area of land bordering the Ariake Sea, between Saga and Kashima. Shiroishi is most famous for its renkon (lotus root) and onions, along with strawberries, wheat, and rice. Fields of renkon and onions form the bulk of the land in the Shiroishi area, with houses clustered in small pockets throughout the countryside.

Who’s here

  • One JET in Ariake and two private ALTs in Fukudomi and Shiroishi

Places of interest

  • Utagaki Park – large park on a hillside in Shiroishi that overlooks the town. On a clear day you can also see over to Tenzan, Saga City, and the Ariake Sea. The park is famous for its azalea display in late spring/early summer, and also has a lot of sakura (cherry blossom) trees.
  • Nui-no-ike – this pond in Shiroishi is fed by a natural spring where you can collect fresh drinking water all year round for free. Some people say the water is fine to drink as is, while others advise to boil or filter it beforehand.
  • Ariake Sky Park Fureaikyo – a multi-purpose community leisure facility that includes various halls/rooms for rent, a large ground and parkland area, and a pool and gym complex.
  • Inasa Shrine – a shrine established before the beginning of the Heian period, and meant to pray for a good rice harvest.
  • Fukudomi Myland Park – a large park featuring a recreation area, a sports area, and playground facilities based on a children’s book and meant to allow children to feel as though they are playing along with the story.

Eateries

  • Inaho – along the Nagaski Line (about halfway between Hizen-Kashima and Hizen-Ryuo stations), this restaurant boasts plates of curry weighing over 2kg.
  • Karintei – best cakes in the area; located just next to the Shiroishi Police Station

Things to do

  • Azalea festival – huge display of azalea flowers and concert at Utagaki Park.
  • Summer festival – the Shiroishi annual summer festival is held at Fukudomi MyLand Park each year and features performances from local groups (yosakoi dancing, taiko, singing etc), festival food stalls, and a big fireworks display.
  • Firewalking Festival – held at Inasa Jinja every January
  • Pettanko Maturi – a festival celebrating mochi making

Getting around

The city districts of Shiroishi and Ariake are served by Hizen-Shiroishi and Hizen-Ryuouo stations respectively, on the Nagasaki line. However, the majority of the city extending east to the Ariake sea has only a very limited bus service available. Most people in Shiroishi own cars and either travel to Kohoku to access the main road (#34) running through Saga, or take the #444 (affectionately known as the ‘shiawase sen’ – a clever play-on-words meaning both ‘a collection of 4s’ and ‘happy’) in to Saga City.