Every year, from the end of October to the beginning of November, the sleepy prefecture of Saga bursts to life in the most colourful and magical of ways. Not known for its tourist attractions or anything else for that matter, the small prefecture in the southern island of Kyushu, for the most part, remains tranquil and undisturbed. Flanked by the hustle and bustle of Fukuoka and the historical relevance of Nagasaki, the prefecture is often overlooked and most tourists wouldn’t even bat an eyelid. Heck, even those of us living in Nagasaki rarely venture there. In fact, going to this festival was my first time to intentionally visit the infamously forgotten prefecture.
Thankfully for us, Chad has a car, so the journey was spent listening to good music, chatting about food and watching the beautiful world pass us by as we weaved between the mountains.
A spontaneous and last minute trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A small little gathering of people perhaps, along with some delicious food and pretty hot air balloons. Oh boy, was I wrong. It was heaving with people, and it took us ages to get a parking place, and even longer to weave through the crowds of people as we tried to get through the walkway lined with food vendors. I have never seen so many Yattai! (outside food stalls), they had every kind of food imaginable. After breaking from the fray, we climbed the little hill and stood up the top, watching the beautiful balloons float up into the air and away into the distance. There is something oddly calming about watching hot air balloons, and I remember always getting excited when I would see them as a child.
*Tough guy Canada in flannel post attempt*
*It actually took a while to get my hair to look this damn cool. Thank you Wind, I love you*
With winter ever approaching, the sun began to set earlier than we had hoped, casting soft pinks and blues across the hillside, giving the day a warm, mystic end. The warmth of the sun left us wanting more as the chill of the night crept in, making me wish I had brought a coat with me. Ah Japanese weather, you win again you old trickster.
Amongst the light of lanterns, fires and the soft glow of the street stalls, we helped ourself to some of our favourite festival foods before beginning the long but enjoyable trip back to Nagasaki, our hearts (and stomaches) full from the day now behind us.
*Hashimaki is my favourite festival food oh my gosh!*
*Watching Taiyaki being made is so cool&!*
And for all you lovely readers who’ve stuck until the end, I have a little treat for you. Despite my lack of talent in the video department, the dive to Saga was so beautiful that I decided to film a little bit of it on my camera. Feel free to watch it, laugh at my terrible skills and then click on my youtube link to watch very very old vlogs from when I had blue dip dyed hair and lived in Oxford!
As always, thanks for reading and I hope you’re having a great week