Sponsored by Saga Prefectural Tourism Federation
The quiet and picturesque town of Ogi in Saga is nicknamed “little Kyoto” – why not visit and find out why?
A shrine with 153 steps
One of Ogi’s best loved shrines is just a 15 minute walk from the station. Suga Shrine is located on a hillside just across a bridge, giving you some stunning views which are reminiscent of places like Kyoto. The bridge crosses Ogi’s Gion River. There are 153 steps leading up to the shrine. These stairs are a little steep though! If you’re not up for a big climb you can stay below and admire the view. From the top you can see a beautiful view of Ogi. The stairs are surrounded on either side with trees.
Suga Shrine was founded in the year 805. Originally called Gion Shrine, the name was changed to Suga in 1876. The shrine is also famous for the Gion Festival, which was held for the 700th time in 2016. This is held in July each year and features traditional dances and other performances along with parades. If you are visiting Saga at this time of year don’t miss a chance to discover this festival!
Beautiful in any season – take a walk around Ogi Park
Ogi Park is a famous spot for cherry blossom viewing in spring, but has plenty of natural beauty to enjoy all year round. It is said that this park has around 3,000 cherry blossom trees which you can see in full bloom around the beginning of April. It is one of Saga’s best loved “hanami” spots. You can visit around this time and enjoy food from festival stalls while admiring the thousands of beautiful flowers.
In May you can see wisteria flowers blooming as they hang from a canopy. At the end of June to the beginning of July you can see fireflies at night by the water. If you visit in autumn you can admire the red leaves. The park is even beautiful in winter when there is less green. Whatever time of year it is you can admire the natural beauty of this park.
Within the park grounds there are also some small shrines, including one with a row of red torii gates. The park spans over a wide area with lots of little areas to discover in the grounds. There are different levels of ground, rich in nature with lovely views over the town at the highest points.
Ogi Park has a beautiful pond you can walk around or sit on one of the benches to admire. In cherry blossom season this is covered with petals as they fall. Other areas of the water have fountains and koi fish, with nearby shops selling food for them.
At any time of year Ogi Park is worth a visit with its Japanese style gardens. It has a distinctive, traditional Japanese atmosphere.
From Ogi Station the park is just a five minute walk away. There is also free parking and toilets.
Lunch in an old traditional style House
For a unique lunch experience, try Ogi Nabeshimake ten. Opened in 2015, this café is in a beautiful renovated old Japanese style house. The building itself has been around since the Meiji era and the inside décor features traditional Japanese features. A kimono hangs in the window and beautiful calligraphy adorns the walls. A visit here can feel like a trip back in time!
The lunch set varies daily and includes a selection of small dishes, including salad, rice and tsukemono – types of pickled vegetables. There is a choice of a meat or fish option, and it also includes coffee and homemade cake for dessert. This is a great way to try a small selection of Japanese foods, or you can just stop by for dessert! The dessert menu changes seasonally. In winter you can warm up by trying zenzai – a kind of red bean dessert with mochi.
The cafe is beautifully decorated in traditional Japanese style with low tables and tatami mats. It’s a wonderful way to experience old Japan and enjoy some great food!
The cafe is conveniently located near Ogi Park so you can stop by after a walk around the park. This is a lovely place to relax with a coffee or meal while enjoying the traditional Japanese style.
How to get to this little Kyoto
Ogi is a beautiful, peaceful town with plenty of interesting things to see and discover. Visit this little Kyoto of Kyushu and enjoy the atmosphere of old Japan! It tends to be a quiet town, other than during cherry blossom season, so it doesn’t have the same level of crowds as Kyoto. You can have plenty of space and time to admire its beauty.
Ogi is just an 18 minute train ride from Saga City on the Karatsu Line. Tickets are ¥280 or you can use your JR Rail Pass. If you have an IC card though you can’t use this, as Ogi Station doesn’t have ticket barriers yet. There is also a map outside the station which you can use to help you find your way to these sights.
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