Saga Prefecture (佐賀県, Saga-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located on the island of Kyushu.[2] Saga Prefecture has a population of 809,248 (1 August 2020) and has a geographic area of 2,440 km2 (942 sq mi). Saga Prefecture borders Fukuoka Prefecture to the northeast and Nagasaki Prefecture to the southwest.

Saga Prefecture
Japanese transcription(s)
 • Japanese佐賀県
 • RōmajiSaga-ken
Nijinomatsubara pine forest and a corner of Karatsu city, Saga
Nijinomatsubara pine forest and a corner of Karatsu city, Saga
Flag of Saga Prefecture
Official seal of Saga Prefecture
Official logo of Saga Prefecture
Anthem: Saga kenmin no uta
Location of Saga Prefecture
SubdivisionsDistricts: 6, Municipalities: 20
 • GovernorYoshinori Yamaguchi
 • Total2,440.68 km2 (942.35 sq mi)
 • Rank42nd
 (August 1, 2020)
 • Total809,248
 • Rank42nd
 • Density330/km2 (860/sq mi)
 • TotalJP¥ 3,220 billion
US$ 29.5 billion (2019)
ISO 3166 codeJP-41
WebsiteSaga Prefecture-japanese-english translate
Symbols of Japan
BirdBlack-billed magpie (Pica pica)
FlowerCamphor blossom (Cinnamomum camphora)
TreeCamphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora)

Saga is the capital and largest city of Saga Prefecture, with other major cities including Karatsu, Tosu, and Imari.[3] Saga Prefecture is located in the northwest of Kyūshū covering an isthmus-like area extending between the Sea of Japan and the Ariake Sea.[3] Saga Prefecture's western region is known for the production of ceramics and porcelain, particularly in the towns of Karatsu, Imari, and Arita.


A reconstruction of a Yayoi period building at the Yoshinogari site
Karatsu Castle

In ancient times, the area composed by Nagasaki Prefecture and Saga Prefecture was called Hizen Province.[4] The current name dates from the Meiji Restoration. Rice farming culture has prospered here since ancient times, and vestiges can be seen at the ruins of Nabatake in Karatsu and the Yoshinogari site in Yoshinogari.

Feudal period

Saga Castle (Shachi gate)
Yūtoku Inari Shrine
Saga International Balloon Fiesta

From the Kamakura period to the Muromachi period, it is thought that over 100 feudal clans existed. Also exerting great influence during this time was a samurai clan operating along the Genkai Sea called the Matsuratō. Upon entering the Sengoku period, the Ryūzōji clan expanded their control to include all of Hizen and Chikugo Provinces, and part of Higo and Chikuzen Provinces. After the death of daimyō Ryūzōji Takanobu, Nabeshima Naoshige took control of the political situation, and by 1607 all of the Ryūzōji clan's domain was under the control of the Nabeshima clan.

In the Edo period this area was called the Saga Domain (佐賀藩 Saga-han), and it included three sub-domains: the Hasunoike, Ogi and Kashima Domains. Also within the current borders of Saga Prefecture during this time were the Karatsu Domain (唐津藩 Karatsu-han) and two territories of the Tsushima-Fuchū Domain (対馬府中藩 Tsushimafuchū-han). Saga Domain and its sub-domains continued to be ruled by the Nabeshima clan, its various illegitimate family lineages and members of the former Ryūzōji clan, and politically the area was relatively stable. The cost of defending Nagasaki was increasing and, difficult from the start, the financial situation was worsened by the great Kyōhō famine and the Siebold Typhoon of 1828. Due to the large area of reclaimed land from the Ariake Sea, arable land was increased significantly and by the 1840s the annual koku of Saga Domain increased to about 670,000, twice that of 200 years before.

Around the middle of the 19th century, Naomasa Nabeshima strove to set right the domain's financial affairs, reduce the number of government officials, and encourage local industry such as Arita porcelain, green tea, and coal. Also, thanks to the proximity of the international port of Nagasaki, new technologies were introduced from overseas, such as the reverberatory furnace and models of steam locomotives.

After the Boshin War, many people from Saga Domain assisted in the Meiji Restoration. In the Meiji era the modernization of coal mines in Kishima and Higashimatsuura districts, among others, progressed bolstered by the construction of railroads.


Eto Shimpei in Saga. Woodblock print from Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun, 1874.



Kyushu's prefecture, Saga, is located on the northwest corner of the island, bordered by the Genkai Sea and the Tsushima Strait to the north and the Ariake Sea to the south. Saga's proximity to mainland Asia has made it an important gateway for the transmission of culture and trade throughout Japanese history. Largely rural outside of the two largest cities of Saga and Karatsu, agricultural and forested lands comprise over 68% of the total prefectural land area. There are six prefectural parks and one quasi-national park in Saga.

Geographical features



  • Saga Plains


  • Sefuri Mountains, Tara Mountains
  • Mount Kyōga (1,076 m, the highest point in Saga), Mount Sefuri (1,056 m), Tenzan (1,046 m), Taradake (996 m ), Mount Ihara (962 m), Kinzan (957 m), Raizan (955 m), Mount Hagane (900 m)

Rivers and lakes

  • Chikugo River (15.5 km in Saga), Kase River (57.5 km), Matsuura River (45.3 km), Rokkaku River (43.6 km)
  • Hokuzan Dam, Kase River Dam




  • Higashimatsuura Peninsula, part of Kitamatsuura Peninsula


  • Genkai Sea: Takashima, Kashiwajima, Ogawajima, Kakarajima, Matsushima, Madarajima, Kabeshima, Mukushima, Iroha Islands[6]
  • Ariake Sea: Okinoshima


  • Niji-no-Matsubara[6]


  • Nanatsugama Caves[6]

Land use


Total area: 2439.31 km2

  • Forest, rough lands: 49.2% – 1/3 of the national average.
    • Forested area: 1096.9 km2 – From 2000, 42nd in the country.
  • Arable land: 39.1% – 2 times the national average.
  • Residential: 6.8% – 1.4 times the national average.
  • Other: 4.9% – Roughly the same as the national average.

As of March 31, 2008, 11% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely the Genkai Quasi-National Park and Hachimandake, Kawakami-Kinryū, Kurokamiyama, Sefuri-Kitayama, Taradake, and Tenzan Prefectural Natural Parks.[7]



Saga Prefecture has a mild climate with an average temperature of about 16 °C (61 °F).


Map of Saga Prefecture showing municipal boundaries.
     City      Town
Saga City
Tara Town

As of October 1, 2007, there are 10 cities, six districts, and 10 towns in Saga Prefecture, a total of 20 municipalities. As a part of the Great Heisei Merger, the number of municipalities has decreased since January 1, 2005. On March 20, 2006, the village of Sefuri merged with the city of Kanzaki, leaving Saga with no more villages.



Ten cities are located in Saga Prefecture:

Name Area (km2) Population Map
Rōmaji Kanji
  Imari 伊万里市 254.99 54,907  
  Kanzaki 神埼市 125.01 31,981  
  Karatsu 唐津市 487.59 117,663  
  Kashima 鹿島市 112.1 30,159  
  Ogi 小城市 95.85 45,638  
  Saga (capital) 佐賀市 431.84 232,736  
  Takeo 武雄市 195.44 48,845  
  Taku 多久市 96.93 19,202  
  Tosu 鳥栖市 71.73 72,755  
  Ureshino 嬉野市 126.51 26,937  



These are the towns in each district:

Name Area (km2) Population District Map
Rōmaji Kanji
  Arita 有田町 65.85 18,989 Nishimatsuura District  
  Genkai 玄海町 36 5,855 Higashimatsuura District  
  Kamimine 上峰町 12.79 9,589 Miyaki District  
  Kiyama 基山町 22.12 17,398 Miyaki District  
  Kōhoku 江北町 24.48 9,524 Kishima District  
  Miyaki みやき町 51.89 25,534 Miyaki District  
  Ōmachi 大町町 11.46 6,680 Kishima District  
  Shiroishi 白石町 99.46 23,606 Kishima District  
  Tara 太良町 74.2 9,125 Fujitsu District  
  Yoshinogari 吉野ヶ里町 43.94 16,117 Kanzaki District  



Metropolitan areas

  • Saga
    • Saga, Taku, Ogi, Kanzaki
  • Karatsu-Higashimatsuura
    • Karatsu, Genkai
  • Tosu
    • Tosu, Kamimine, Kiyama, Yoshinogari, Miyaki
  • Kitō
    • Takeo, Kashima, Ureshino, Shiroishi, Ōmachi, Kōhoku, Tara



Agriculture, forestry, and coastal fisheries form a large portion of the prefectural economy. Regional agricultural specialties include Saga beef, onions, and strawberries. The prefecture is the largest producer of mochigome (sticky rice) and greenhouse mandarin oranges in Japan.

According to 2002 figures, regional trade exports are focused primarily towards North America (29.3%), Western Europe (26.1%), and the Newly Industrializing Economies of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore (19.9%). Imports come principally from North America (40.6%), the ASEAN nations (23.3%), and the People's Republic of China (12.2%).


Saga prefecture population pyramid in 2020

In 2002, the census recorded a population of 873,885 in Saga. Of these, 15.9% were aged 0–14, 62.7% were aged 15–64, and 21.4% were over 65 years old. There were 3,596 foreigners (0.4%) and 307 exchange students (0.03%) living in the prefecture.









Major stations in the prefecture include Saga Station, Tosu Station, Karatsu Station and Imari Station. The new Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen line stops at the Takeo-Onsen Station.





Arita, Imari and Karatsu are famous for the porcelain that is created there. The top porcelain houses in the country are located in these areas, including Imaemon Porcelain, Genemon Porcelain and Fukagawa Porcelain.



Saga-ben (Saga dialect) is Saga's own variation of Japanese.



Balloon Fiesta


The Saga International Balloon Fiesta is held at the beginning of November every year just outside Saga City along the Kase River. This is a popular event and attracts competitors from all over the world.[citation needed]

Karatsu Kunchi


The Karatsu Kunchi is held at the beginning of November in Karatsu City. This is Saga's largest festival and attracts around 500,000 visitors every year.

Kashima Gatalympics


The Kashima Gatalympics are held every May–June in the city of Kashima. This event involves playing a variety of sports in the mudflats of the Ariake Sea. The Gatalympics are not held if the weather is raining.

Imari Ton-Ten-Ton Festival


The Imari Ton-Ten-Ton Festival is held for 3 days every year near the end of October. Located in Imari City, the festival is one of the three great fighting festivals in Japan. In the festival a crashing battle takes place between the two huge portable shrines, the Ara-mikoshi and the Danjiri. The name "Ton-Ten-Ton" represents the sound of drums used in the festival.


Ekimae Real Estate Stadium in Tosu.

Sports teams


Teams listed below are based in Saga Prefecture.

Football (soccer)





Karatsu, with its fine castle, is a tourist destination in Saga. The remains of a Yayoi village in Yoshinogari also attract large numbers of sightseers. Another place to visit is Yūtoku Inari Shrine, one of Japan's three biggest Inari shrines.

The Saga prefecture helped sponsor the 2018 anime Zombie Land Saga, which has attracted tourists to various locations showcased in the series, including the museum that doubles in the series as the girls' house and Drive-In Tori Chicken.

Notable people

  • Comedian and J-pop singer Hanawa became famous for comically singing about Saga Prefecture and its oddities.
  • Former TV personality Masashi Tashiro was born in Saga Prefecture.
  • World War II fighter ace Saburō Sakai was born in Saga Prefecture.
  • Actress and J-pop singer Yasuko Matsuyuki and her younger brother, J-pop/rock singer Yuna Katsuki (of Lazy Knack and Red), are from Saga city.[8]

The Seven Wise Men of Saga


"The Seven Wise Men of Saga" is the name given to these seven men from Saga, each of whom have made a significant contribution to the modernisation of Japan. Their contributions began in the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate, and continued into the Meiji Restoration. Even today, this era shines impressively in Saga's history.

See also



  1. ^ "2020年度国民経済計算(2015年基準・2008SNA) : 経済社会総合研究所 - 内閣府". 内閣府ホームページ (in Japanese). Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  2. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Fukuoka-ken" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 218, p. 218, at Google Books.
  3. ^ a b Nussbaum & Roth (2005), "Saga prefecture", p. 804.
  4. ^ Nussbaum & Roth (2005), "Provinces and prefectures", p. 780.
  5. ^ Nussbaum & Roth (2005), "Saga no ran", p. 804.
  6. ^ a b c "The Saga Sightseeing Information: Nature". Saga Tourist Federation Information Center (Tourism Division). Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
  7. ^ "General overview of area figures for Natural Parks by prefecture" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment (Japan). April 1, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  8. ^ "Yuna". Love Flare. 2005. Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2015.



33°17′N 130°10′E / 33.283°N 130.167°E / 33.283; 130.167