Although Karatsu is known for its ceramics, it is also a place to enjoy nature and its bounty. From the old historic pine trees in eastern Karatsu, to the marine life in the north, here are some suggestions while visiting this seaside town, of course, including a little ceramic shopping.
Explore Niji no Matsubara
An old pine forest to the west of Karatsu Castle, Niji no Matsubara is one of the city’s most scenic spots. The tall black pine trees, which are said to have been planted by a 17th century lord, form a tunnel that arches like a rainbow for about 4.5km. Niji no Matsubara is a place of legends, including the fact that the cicadas here do not cry because they were scolded by feudal lord Hideyoshi Toyotomi for being too noisy. You can try to confirm these and other folk stories or simply enjoy the refreshing feeling of walking through these old trees.
Niji no Matsubara
Shop at Nakano Touchi Ceramics
Nakano Touchi Ceramics has been in business for over 150 years and is one of the emblematic ceramic shops in Karatsu. If you are on the lookout for unique and rare ceramics, then this is the place to go to. At Nakano Touchi, you can count on getting beautiful craftwork that once purchased are unlikely to be duplicated. The crafting techniques involve some uncontrolled elements that can only be seen after they come out of the kiln.
Nakano Touchi Ceramics
Visit Karatsu Castle
Although the original 17th century castle does not stand here anymore, visiting Karatsu Castle is still worth a visit thanks to the historical significance of the area and the scenic views that the castle grounds provide. Part of the castle moats are build at the water’s edge and reaching the top of the castle tower provides a memorable view of Karatsu Bay. Also, from early April to through early May, this is the home of 100 year-old wisteria flowers which take over the grounds below the castle tower and provide a magical scene.
Eat fresh seafood at Yobuko’s morning market.
Yobuko no Asaichi is a morning seafood market located in the town of Yobuko. It is quaint small market offering fresh local seafood daily from 7am to noon. Stroll down the street and try out the fresh sea urchin, fish croquettes, and other snacks offer by the locals. If you can take fresh fish with you, then look for the shop Kia towards the end of the street; they are know for their fresh ajimirin and the squid.
Yobuko’s morning market.
Mingle with the fish at Hadomisaki’s underwater observatory
At Hadomisaki, a cape in northern Karatsu overlooking the Genkainada Sea, you can gaze at wild fish without getting wet. Here, an underwater observatory gives visitors the chance to get in the water and come close to a variety of fish species. Through information panels, you can also learn about the fish swimming past the windows and about the area’s marine life. This is a cool experience for travelers of all ages but especially for those touring Karatsu with kids. Afterward the rendez-vous with the marine life, head back up and take in the endless blue of the sea in front of your eyes.
Genkai sea observation tower