Down in the depths of Japan’s southerly Kyushu island, Saga Prefecture is far removed from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo but thanks to the popularity of neighbouring Fukuoka Prefecture, Saga is easier than ever to access while maintaining its country life aura.
No small trip, Tokyo to Saga by train is a minimum of 5.5 hours whizzing down the country. For this reason, Kyushu is often best combined with other prefectures on the way down such as Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Osaka. Once into Kyushu, Saga, in the northwestern corner of the island, can be reached relatively quickly. While the Kyushu Shinkansen only skims the eastern corner of Saga Prefecture, Shin-Tosu Station is just 12 minutes from Hakata Station in Fukuoka from which Saga Station can be reached in a further 12 minutes on the JR Limited Express Kamome.
From the prefectural capital, Saga City, a small network of trains provide leisurely access to other cities across the prefecture including Arita in around 40 minutes, Karatsu in 75 minutes, and Imari in around 90 minutes. For those planning a trip all the way down to Kyushu by train, it’s almost certainly worth buying a JR Pass to benefit from the bullet trains which would otherwise set you back around 25,000 yen each way.
At such a distance from Tokyo, and with a hefty price tag on a JR Pass, Saga Airport is a quick gateway into Saga Prefecture for those with limited time and funds. Flights go daily to and from Haneda Airport in Tokyo and start at around 20,000 yen for a return ticket. From the airport, a 30-minute bus will take you into Saga City for 600 yen.
Alternatively, Fukuoka Airport is just a 70-minute bus ride from Saga City to which flights from both Japanese airports and from abroad arrive and take off much more frequently than at Saga Airport.
While the trains provide the best access between the main cities and towns of Saga Prefecture, affordable buses are available as a slightly cheaper alternative. For travellers on a budget and no JR Pass, the affordable SUNQ Pass offers three or four days of unlimited travel on the majority of local and highway buses around Kyushu. The pass starts at 9,000 yen for three days around Northern Kyushu, which includes Saga, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Oita, Kumamoto, and Shimonoseki.