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Tara's Natural Wonders

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Tara's Natural Wonders


Experience the pull of the moon in this Kyushu town

Saga Prefecture



Nowhere in Japan sees such dramatic tidal variations as the town of Tara in Saga Prefecture. There the combination of the moon’s gravitational pull and the Earth’s rotation creates a tidal range of up to six meters, a phenomenon that has fascinated locals and visitors since ancient times. Morning, evening and night, the Tara seascape is always changing.


Tara’s tides have a dramatic effect on one of its best-known icons, the trio of vermilion torii gates of the Ōuo Shrine, which, at high tide, appear to float on the Ariake Sea, while at low tide can be reached on foot.


The ‘Great Fish’ Shrine honours a deity of the sea, whose local culinary bounty includes fine seafood such as Takezaki crab, Takezaki oysters and seaweed. To the west, Tara’s mountains provide an abundance of mandarin oranges and wasabi.


The 1,000-meter-high Taradake Mountains offer opportunities for trekkers and climbers, as well as those seeking peace in nature. A treasure trove of plants and animals, the forests of the Takedake Mountains are also home to local ‘power spots’ that flourished during the Nara period (710-794AD) as sacred places for followers of shugendō, a native religion that combines ascetic Buddhism and Shinto mountain worship.


From mountain sunrises to star-filled night skies above magical Tara Takesaki Onsen – an open-air, hot, mineral spring on the seashore – it’s hard not to be awed by Tara's natural wonders.


How to get there


2 minutes by car from JR Tara Station / 65 minutes by car from Takeo-Kitagata IC or 60 minutes from Isahaya IC, both on the Nagasaki Expressway.


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