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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan. Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan.
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare. An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare.
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife. Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife.
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan. Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan.
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara. The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara.
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower. Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower.
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving. Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving.
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky. The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky.
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Festivals & Events

Saga International Balloon Fiesta 佐賀インターナショナルバルーンフェスタ

Not a cloud in the sky, just hundreds of hot-air balloons

The Saga International Balloon Fiesta is the largest sky-sporting event in Asia. Over a six-day period from October 31 to early November, it combines three "tournaments" with a grand finale of fireworks and a light show put on by a cluster of hot-air balloons.

The main launch site generally begins sending balloons up for the competitions at seven in the morning, but the weather is always a factor. There are events throughout the day, right up until five p.m. The balloons are illuminated at night by the flames from their burners, with the music of a live band to add to the spectacle.

How to Get There

The closest station is Saga Station, best reached by train.

Balloon Saga Station is only a five-minute train ride on the JR Nagasaki Main Line from Saga Station. Saga Station will have connecting shuttle buses as well as information on the various venues. Since this is an international event, information is available in English.

The event takes place by the Kase River, a 10-minute walk from Balloon Saga Station.

Something for the kid in all of us

The Macy's Day Parade has nothing on Saga's balloon fiesta: Adorable animals and famous cartoon characters make their appearance as gigantic balloons at Balloon Fantasia. There's also a Kid's Day event that provides children a fun opportunity to learn about hot-air balloons through hands-on activities and even go inside a balloon envelope.

If you'd like to go up yourself

After the morning competition finishes, you have the chance to float up there yourself. The Hot Air Balloon School is a class for new balloonists where you can do everything from inflation to finishing with pilots and crew. That includes sending burner's hot air to the envelope.

The pilots and crew teach you the system and properties of the balloon. Sometimes the school is held outside the regular service hours between events. In that case, it will be announced at the launch site.

Event info and where to stay

The event has a full schedule posted online of the events in English, including instructions on how to do the hands-on activities on offer.

Since the event is so close to the city of Saga, staying in town is recommended. Saga has a good range of Western-style hotels, ryokan inns, and other lodging options.

More than just hot-air balloons

The event all happens along the Kasegawa River just outside Saga City. In addition to the amazing sights in the sky, there are rows of food vendors and a massive tent filled with local crafts and other various cultural promotions.

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