Ouchi is a small town in northern Saga Prefecture that became part of Karatsu city in 2005. It has a population of just over 9000. The average age of residents of Ouchi is around 57. The town flower is the アジサイ (hydrangea) (they really love it) and the town tree is the スギ (Japanese cedar), but it’s not as popular as the hydrangea! There is a volunteer fire brigade and they’re big on community sports.
Ouchi is the point at which four rivers meet – the Matsuura river, the Kyuragi river, the Hirayama river, and the Ikisa river. The name Ouchi comes from the description of the town as a meeting point for the rivers. There are also several mountains of between 300 and 900 metres. So, if you like hydrangea, elderly people, stone carvings and rivers – come to Ouchi for a splendid time!
One municipal ALT lives in Ouchi and works at the town’s one Junior High and two Elementary schools. They also sometimes work at other schools in Karatsu.
Things to do
- Onsens – there are two delightful onsens in the Ouchi area – including Sari onsen which has a glass pyramid for the women’s bath so you can see outside but no one can see in.
- Waterfalls – Ouchi has one of Japan’s top 100 waterfalls – Mikaeri Taki – which is nice in the Spring when they have the “Ajisai festival” celebrating the famed and ever popular hydrangea.
- Udonosekibutsugun 鵜殿石仏群 – carvings of Buddha in the wall of a cave-type. Best visited in cool weather when heat and insects aren’t an issue
- Ajisai Matsuri at Mikaeri no Taki – the main aforementioned event in Ouchi along with Kunchi
- Ouchi Kunchi – much like Karatsu Kunchi it lasts three days (the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of October) and people pull floats around the town. Unlike Karatsu Kunchi there are only two floats, but that doesn’t make it any less of a spectacle.
The main train station, Ouchi Station (相知駅), is on the Karatsu Line of JR line running from Nishi-Karatsu Station in Karatsu to Saga. A smaller line, part of the Chikuhi Line, runs from Yamamoto Station of Karatsu City, through Nishi-Ōchi Station (West-Ōchi) to Imari Station in Imari City, a notable pottery centre in Saga Prefecture, along with Karatsu and Arita. Ouchi is on the 203 route from Karatsu to Saga City.