Translated by Shinji Takaramura
A TV Special Was Filmed Right Here! Vising Saga's Popular Locations
A TV special shot in Saga Prefecture and starring Thai actor Thiti Mahayotharak (also known as Bank), will be on-air worldwide in autumn of 2017. We introduce here the wonderful places in Saga that were featured in this special!
Written by MATCHA-PR
For the Thai people, the most popular sightseeing destination in Japan is Saga Prefecture. TV series and movies shot in Saga have been released in Thai, and the number of people hoping to visit Saga is steadily increasing.
In July of 2017, a TV special set in Saga Prefecture was broadcast in Japan. Its English version will be shown in the autumn, on NHK WORLD TV. This is an international broadcasting service operated by NHK (a Japanese public broadcasting organization), making it possible for Japanese TV special to be viewed in English in 160 countries. Thiti Mahayotharak (also known as "Bank") will appear in the TV special titled "Gata no Kuni Kara" (literally "From the Country of Gata"), scheduled to be broadcast on November 26th. As of November 2017, it is possible to watch this show via VOD (Video On Demand) in two languages, English and Thai.
The program will be showing Saga's wonderful places such as the onsen (hot springs) and higata (the tideland), so it might be fun to visit them beforehand.
Kashima and Ureshino
This drama was mainly shot in Kashima City and Ureshino City. They are located in western Saga, and prospered as a post town in the Edo Period. Both cities are filled with historic inns, sake breweries, shrines and temples, so they attract a large number of tourists every year.
The tideland in Kashima City is registered in the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty for the conservation of wetlands. This vast area of 57 hectares in size is a crucial location in "Gata no kuni kara."Ureshino City is famous for its onsen (hot springs), and a popular onsen also appears in the drama. So let's take a look at those sites.
Yutoku Inari Shrine
Yutoku Inari Shrine, located in Kashima City, has appeared in various Thai dramas and movies and is well known. It also appears in "Gata no Kuni Kara."
The shrine, with a red torii arch and a main shrine supported by red wooden structures, has a history of more than 300 years. As it enshrines Inari, the god of harvests, many visitors pray for prosperity here. The autumn leaves welcome the visitors in November and December.
The kagura dance (*1) at the monthly festivals is an event you should see. The dance, performed by miko using folding fans and bells, is truly elegant. The festival schedule can be checked on the English site of the shrine.
The Yutoku Museum displays the shrine's collections of artwork and handicrafts. The traditional armor used by the feudal lord of Kashima-han, which ruled this area, is also displayed. So do visit the museum, as well as the shrine.
*1 Kagura dance: A Shinto ritual in form of a dance.
Take a Break at Siebold's Footbath
Ureshino Onsen, one of the prominent hot spring areas in Japan, is located at Ureshino City. The spring contains a high amount of sodium. Along with Kitsuregawa Onsen (Tochigi Prefecture) and Hinokami Onsen (Shimane Prefecture), Ureshino Onsen has been regarded as one of the three major Japanese Hot Springs for Beautiful Skin, and welcomes a large number of female tourists. The tofu made with the hot spring water is a special product of this area. Visitors can have fun at Ureshino Onsen, regardless of the season.
The nostalgic building of Siebold's Footbath, which appears in the drama, stands out among Ureshino's bathing facilities. The footbath is a public facility, and visitors can soak their feet without charge. This is the perfect place to take a break from walking around Ureshino.
Roadside Station Kashima: Meet the Mudskippers
At Ariake Sea, the difference between the high-water and low-water marks is huge, and as a result, a vast tideland appears at low tide.
Every year in June, Gatalympic, an athletic meet, is held in the tideland near the Roadside Station Kashima (Michi no eki Kashima). All the participants will get covered in mud during the footrace and tug-of-war, but they enjoy it. To participate, a reservation via the Gatalympic site (Japanese only) is required in advance.
Even if you can't go to the Gatalympic, there is a Tidal Flat Workshop from April to October, hosted by Roadside Station Kashima. Rental skis and body boards are available, so you can go skiing or surfing in the tideland. There are locker rooms and showers at the Roadside Station, so don't worry.
The mudskippers (mutsugoro) inhabit the tideland. They are small, about fifteen centimeters long, and walk around aimlessly. Mutsugoro plays an important role in "Gata no Kuni Kara," so be sure to look for them.
Japan Expo in Thailand 2017
Saga Prefecture, unlike Tokyo or Osaka, has an idyllic atmosphere, with an abundance of rice paddies and mountains, and most visitors think of a second visit. Those who want to know more about Saga Prefecture and other sightseeing spots in Japan should visit the Japan Expo in Thailand 2017, held in Bangkok from Friday, September 1st to Sunday, September 3rd of 2017.
NHK WORLD and various Japanese prefectures will be present as exhibitors, plus there will be booths related to food and pop culture too, so visitors will be able to gather a wide range of information all about Japan. Bank, who came to Saga for the drama shoot, is scheduled to appear at a talk session from 1:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, September 3rd. He might talk about the "Gata no Kuni Kara" shoot, or about the appeals of Saga Prefecture and Japan.
Don't miss the drama "Gata no Kuni Kara" which will be broadcast in English on NHK WORLD, and the Japan Expo in Thailand 2017. And, now you can watch "Gata no Kuni Kara" on NHK WORLD TV's VOD (Video On Demand) too!
If you want to know about the event hosted by NHK WORLD in Thailand, check this English site.
For further information about NHK WORLD's drama "Gata no Kuni Kara", take a look at their official site.
For information about Japan Expo in Thailand 2017, please refer to their official site (Japanese and Thai).
Photos by Saga Prefectural Tourism Federation, Yutoku Inari Shrine, Shutterstock
Sponsored by NHK WORLD