Journey with us on A Mystical Odyssey in Bhutan (12 - 18 March '23).

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The Spirit of Saga

Tea, oysters, sake, shochu, hot springs, pottery and more – all packed into Saga Prefecture, one of the most fascinating regions in Kyushu and all of Japan. No visit to Saga would be complete without immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of its history. Wander through the historic towns, where its traditional architecture stands the test of time. Experience some of the most storied traditions and spirits cultivation anywhere in Japan, that harnesses impeccable skills, terroir and dedication to crafting some of the finest in the country. Savor exquisite gastronomy that are the envy of many other parts of Japan. Saga draws you in with its richness, allure and timeless landscapes.

This journey outline is by no means fixed. As the traveller takes centre stage in our planning – from the type of lodging to daily activities – your journey will be crafted to suit you.

Day by Day Highlights

Day 1
Arrive Fukuoka / Iki

Arrive into Fukuoka Intl Airport, where we transfer to Hakata Port to embark on the Kyushu Yusen jetfoil on an hour’s voyage to the picturesque remote island of Iki in the Sea of Japan, renowned for its slow pace of life, rugged coastlines, incredible seafood, blessed with incredibly blue waters and white sand beaches. Arriving at Iki Ashibe Port, we disembark and soon begin our exploration making a stop at the Harahoge Jizo Statues at Yahataura, a group of semi-submerged stone guardian deities that is said to provide salvation of all living things in the six realms. Here, we have the rare opportunity to meet an Ama woman diver, learning about their life harvesting abalone, sea urchin, turban shells and more and a chance to taste fresh seafood.

Thereafter, we will make a stop at the sacred Kojima Shrine, built on a sandbar islet that is mostly inaccessible until low tide sets in. Enshrined at the site are ancient gods of love, marriage, prosperity and good luck as we start our journey in the best of faith. Next, we visit Umejima Ranch, raising Iki cattle for the high-grade Iki Wagyu, long renowned for its rarity, tenderness and taste thanks to the mild climate and rich natural environment. Not far away, we visit the impeccably-designed Ikikoku Museum, exhibiting an incredible amount of valuable resources, documents and relics excavated from various archaeological sites on the island from the historical exchange and trading that flourished here between China, Korea and Japan more than 2,000 years ago.

Day 2

This morning, visit the bustling Katsumoto Morning Market, where you have the chance to mingle with locals and fishermen unloading freshly caught seafood, fruits and vegetables to experience the local life. Enjoy a sightseeing cruise to the nearby uninhabited island of Tatsunoshima, taking in all the stunning scenery of the turquoise blue water, the uniquely-shaped cliffs. Tour the Ikinokura Distillery, known as the birthplace of Mugi Shochu made of barley that has been thetradition since the 16th century.

Thereafter, we head west, making a brief stop at the Kurosak Gun Battery, once the site of the largest gun battery in Asia, built to attack Allied vessels during WWII but was never used once in its history. Nearby the battery, we come face to face with the stunning Saruiwa Monkey Rock, a rocky outcrop shaped like a monkey that was created by the forces of nature over time.

Day 3
Iki / Karatsu

Depart the Iki Retreat to Indoji Port where we re-embark on the Kyushu Yusen jetfoil for our return back to Kyushu mainland. After a 1.5hrs sailing, we land in the historic coastal city of Karatsu, renowned for its incredible seafood, samurai legacies, pottery and stunning coastal scenery. Enjoy an exquisite dining experience at Arutokoro, one of the World’s Best 50 Discovery Restaurants.

Later, visit the Hikiyama Exhibition Hall – home to the incredible giant floats of the annual three-day Karatsu Kunchi Festival in autumn, to celebrate bountiful harvests since the Edo Period. Consider a visit to the Karatsu Castle (OPTIONAL), originally built in 1608 by Terazawa Hirotaka which served as a strategic stronghold for its geographic location at the mouth of the Matsuura River.

Day 4
Karatsu (The Higashimatsuura Peninsula)

We uncover the gems of the Higashimatsuura Peninsula beginning with a scenic drive along Karatsu Bay eventually travelling north to the bustling Yobuko Morning Market, in operation since the Taisho Period and ranked as one of Japan’s three major morning markets next to the atmospheric Yobuko Port. Enjoy the opportunity to sample squid sashimi, squid dumplings and many more fresh seafood that are sourced in the area. Nearby, enjoy a drive to the picturesque Cape Hado, offering spectacular views of the Genkai Sea. Worth a visit is the Genkai Undersea Observatory Tower spanning 7m underwater where you will witness the thriving marine life and magnificence of the underwater world.

Journey on south to the picturesque Terraced Rice Fields of Hamanoura, stretching out like a staircase runningup from the sea, displaying different expressions depending on the season. Returning inland, enjoy a visit to the Narutaki Shuzo Sake Brewery, a historic brewery located in a springwhere Hideyoshi Toyotomi used to hold tea ceremonies and a chanceto learn about its most lauded sake, the signature Juraku Taiko, which has won the Gold Award 12 times at the National New Sake Appraisal.

Day 5
Karatsu / Imari / Arita / Ureshino

We travel south, a dedicated meeting with an acclaimed pottery maker where we immerse ourselves into the intricate world of Karatsu pottery. Continue to the village of Okawachiyama, known as the village of secret kilns. From 1675 to 1871, it was the official kiln of the Nabeshima family of the Saga Domain, and was a representative production center of porcelain, producing high quality pottery for the imperial court, the shogunate and various influential lords.

Next, we make our way to Arita Uchiyama, dotted with rows of buildings from the late Edo Period to early Showa Period, steeped in history that it is designated as National Preservation District for Groups of Historic Buildings. Spot the Sueyama Shrine, built in ceramic in 1658 overlooking the town. Nearby, arrive at the palatial Arita Porcelain Park, a full-sized reconstruction of the Zwinger Palace in Germany, a spectacular example of German baroque architecture of early 18thCentury. Learn about the exhibits in the palace that provide insights into the influence of Arita porcelain on European designs.  

Day 6
Ureshino (The Tea Domains of Ureshino & Takeo Onsen)

Today, we enter into the domains of Ureshino as we deep dive into the historic tea cultivation that began 580 years ago. On an insightful experience, we learn the methods of “Kamairicha”, which involves pan-frying the tea leaves at high temperatures and “Mushisei”, in which freshly-picked tea leaves are steamed, in the pursuit of the most perfect taste. Enjoy a masterclass with tea masters in some of the most alluring locations and settings that elevates the whole sensory experience.

Shortly, we discover the beautiful Todoroki Falls at the confluence of the Shiota River and Iwayagawachi River. At 11m high, the falls are split into 3 stages and the name, which means “boom falls” derives from the booming sound like thunders.

Day 7
Ureshino / Tara / Kashima

We visit the  peaceful town of Tara, renowned for its incredible Takezaki crabs (all year round) and oysters. Here, we will also make a stop to admire the Ouo Shrine, with its three torii gates submerged in the sea. Later, we will enjoy an exclusive Oyster Farm tasting experience where you have the opportunity to sample some of the freshest and revered oysters found anywhere in Japan. Travel to the historic city of Kashima, deeply connected to its agricultural roots and renowned for its rice cultivation that are used for its prolific sake production.

We will visit the stunning Yutoku Inari Shrine, one of three major shrines in Japan dedicated to “Inari”, the deity of rice and successful business. We then continue into the nostalgic and historic Hizen Hamashuku sake district, lined with an incredible number of period buildings, the picturesque townscape is designated a “Preservation Area of Important Traditional Architectures”.

Day 8
Kashima / Fukuoka

Today, we depart Kashima where we may have the rare opportunity to witness the spectacular Saga International Balloon Festival held every autumn along the Kae River that brings together hot air balloon enthusiasts from around the world. Consider a visit to the Amabuki Shuzo Sake Brewery, that has been in business for over 300 years and one of the most highly-regarded and popular breweries in Kyushu sought after by many in the country.

We will then arrive into Fukuoka, capital city of Kyushu and the one of the largest cities in Japan and business and administrative center of Kyushu, a cosmopolitan international gateway, a foodie paradise for its many incredible dining establishments and a shopping paradise. We will retreat to the brand new The Ritz Carlton Fukuoka, situated in the heart of downtown in the main tower of the Fukuoka Daimyo Garden City complex. The Ritz Carlton Fukuoka is a sophisticated retreat with views across Hakata Bay, six dining venues that complement the city’s status as a lively food capital.

Day 9
Departure Fukuoka

Today, our sojourn comes to an end as you are transferred to Fukuoka Airport for your departure or continue your journey in Kyushu or other regions of Japan.

Let’s plan your perfect escape. To start the conversation, contact us via our interactive form or drop us an email at


Practical Information

Locations covered

Iki Island, Karatsu, Imari, Arita, Ureshino, Takeo Onsen, Tara, Kashima, Fukuoka

Recommended months to travel

March - December

Level of difficulty


Indicative price

SGD$8,500 - $10,000/pax based on twin-sharing, on a private basis. Excludes international flights.

As we’ll customise your journey based on your preferences and needs, please note that this indicative price is just a rough estimate. Prices can fluctuate depending on season, type of accommodation and activities/experiences chosen (private vs. shared) etc.

This journey outline is by no means conclusive. It is just a guideline and can be tailored according to your comfort level, interests and preferences for every detail from accommodation to activities.

This journey outline is by no means conclusive. It is just a guideline and can be tailored according to your comfort level, interests and preferences for every detail from accommodation to activities.

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