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Meet the Kappa of Japanese folklore Along the Matsubara river!

This stretch of road, which runs alongside the small Matsubara river and past the Matsubara shrine in central Saga is a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll. It has been tastefully constructed in the style of an old fashioned street.

Start from the Matsubara bridge

Look for the little red bridge near the south end of the main street.

The quaint little bridge reads “Matsubara bridge” and it is decorated with carved stone pine trees. The “Matsu” in the name refers to pine.

This picturesque route, seen here from the Matsubara bridge, runs several hundred metres along the Matsubara river. At several points along the route you can step down onto a stone path in the shallow river and watch the carp gliding through the water.

The water imps (Kappa) of the Matsubara river

You’ll come across several stone carvings of Kappa, monsters from Japanese folklore, along this route. Long ago, the mischievous Kappa were blamed whenever there was a water disaster. According to legend, a local lord during the Edo era (1603-1868) caught a Kappa in the Matsubara river and punished it in order to protect the children.

You can find Kappa in each region of Japan but having a family of Kappa, such as those along the Matsubara river, is quite unique.

I found the first member of the Kappa family!

This female Kappa loves clean water.

Several restaurants line the river.

This Kappa is looking down into the water from the bridge !


What a strange expression! I wonder what its thinking? Perhaps it is watching over the children.

There are some retro buildings like this one on the opposite side of the road.

This is Kawataro the Kappa, popular with children. He holds his webbed hand out to passers by.


If you shake his hand ……
Water projects from the bridge behind!

This Kappa is sitting peacefully in the river.

I wonder what it’s looking at!
Seems like it’s watching over these two!

This former cinema used to be the only one in Saga and was a symbol of the city, always bustling with people.

The last Kappa sits watching passers by near the end of the walking course.

Sitting in the shade of a magnificent old camphor tree.

You can just see the Timer California Kitchen in the background. This very popular restaurant is worth a visit. Why not pop in for lunch after a morning walk along the Matsubara river. I’d recommend the Saga vegetable course, which serves a delicious variety of vegetables grown in Saga.


The walking course ends at Saga shrine so turn around and take in the last view of this pretty street.

If you have 10 minutes to spare, take a stroll along this peaceful and picturesque street in the centre of town and meet the little monsters of Japanese folklore.

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