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July 22, 2016 - Yobuko - Saga Prefecture
Yobuko is a small but pretty port town located around 40 minutes by bus from Karatsu in Saga Prefecture. Apart from being famous for squid it's also known as one of the three main towns in Japan which has a morning market - the other two being Takayama and Wajima.
As mentioned above - it takes around 40 minutes to reach Yobuko from Karatsu and costs 750 yen. In general there are 1 to 2 buses an hour that leaves from Karatsu Bus Centre which is a 5 minute walk from the train station, but few buses travel onto the Nagoya Castle Ruins.
In general the market sells lots of knick knacks, dried squid along with pickled things. They are quite popular with local tourists, but not so much for the western palate specifically when going through customs.
One option if you have the time is to take a boat to see some cliffs and caves. It's also possible to visit an island with boats seeming to leave once an hour in general. As buses to the castle are quite infrequent, I decided to visit the castle instead of travelling on the boat.
As Yobuko is famous for it's Squid (along with Sea Urchin - I think) I decided to have the squid on rice instead of the live squid. Even though squid is not my favourite - I really enjoyed this and the Squid Sashimi was also divine.
Around a 12 minute bus ride or a 45 minute walk is the impressive Nagoya Castle Ruins & Museum. It's free to enter the museum, but costs 100 yen to enter the sprawling Nagoya Castle
At present, it seems as though I have visited a castle every day since I've visited Kyushu so they are starting to get a little monotonous. However - this castle (even though it is ruins) is up there with the best I have seen. It's absolutely huge and has a little bit of an Indiana Jones feel to it in the middle of summer.
One of the highlights of this castle is you can borrow an IPad Mini which shows you what different parts of the castle would have looked like before it came a ruin. It's kind of funny as it seems as though everyone was playing Pokemon Go on the iPad's
As this castle is so large - that means there is plenty of places to have a picnic. Do note that there are no toilets inside the actual castle - and you will be walking around for 1 to 2 hours. It was also great to hear all of the crickets and birds chirping along with the wind howling. I live in China - so hearing no human made noise is rare.
As I still had 90 minutes left before the bus came (its 3 hours between buses), I was happy to see the small but pretty Kotaku-ji temple was open and selling green tea and sweets for 500 yen while you look at the garden.
Even though the garden was not up to the standard of some of the places I have visited in the past - the frosty A/C was a welcome retreat from the very hot and muggy weather outside.
You mat not be able to tell through what I have written, but I really enjoyed today. I guess it was that it was really quiet, pretty and most important relaxing. I also forgot to mention that it costs 280 yen to get to Nagoya Castle from Yobuko and there are eating options available at or near the castle ruins. The bus stops in front of a road station - which is basically a place which sells local food and souvenirs.
Karatsu & Yobuko Tourist Information: http://www.karatsu-kankou.jp/en/ (English)
Nagoya Castle Museum: http://saga-museum.jp/nagoya/language/english/ (English)
Bus Timetable from Karatsu: http://saga-museum.jp/nagoya/docs/ngycm-showabus-timetable.pdf ( Japanese)
大手口バスセンター = Karatsu Bus Centre
呼子 = Yobuko
名護屋城博物館入口 = Nagoya Castle Ruins