Ariake Sea – Japan’s Largest Tidal Flats

Ariake sea

What is Ariake sea?

The Ariake Sea is a body of saltwater located off the coast of Kyushu, Japan. Here are some characteristics of the Ariake Sea.

Characteristics of Ariake Sea

Ariake sea tidal flats

The Ariake Sea is the largest Tidal Flats in Japan, with an area of approximately 1,700 square kilometers (660 square miles).

It is surrounded by Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, and Kumamoto Prefectures of Kyushu. The sea is relatively shallow, with its deepest point reaching only about 50 meters (165 feet). It experiences extreme tides that can exceed 4 meters (13 feet).

There are several ferries in service on the Ariake Sea, and there are also many fishing ports.

History of Ariake Sea

The Ariake Sea has a rich history that spans over centuries.

It is said that before the Jomon period (around 10,000 BCE), the land was still connected to the mainland of China, but gradually the sea level dropped, and the Ariake Sea was formed..

The Ariake Sea has a long-standing tradition of aquaculture and fishing. People have utilized its rich marine resources for sustenance and economic purposes. It has the highest market share of nori (edible seaweed) in Japan.

Living things in the Ariake Sea

In the unique environment of the Ariake Sea, there are also creatures that can only survive here, like mudskippers, green eel goby, and javelin goby.

The endangered Suaeda japonica turns red in autumn, and you can witness the entire area covered in its vibrant red foliage.

Activities to enjoy at Ariake Sea

Clam digging

In the Ariake Sea, you can experience incredibly unique activities that take advantage of its characteristics.

Mud experience activity

The mud experience activity is conducted on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays, and during the summer vacation period, from mid-April to the end of October. Participants can freely play and get muddy using play equipment such as bodyboards and Frisbees.

Gata-ski (mud sledge)

One such activity is “Gata-ski” (mud sledge), which uses the mud of tidal flats.

Besides being used by the fishermen and the  Miike Coast Guard for rescue operations, Gata-ski is also featured as a competition in the annual “Kashima Gatalympics,” held in early summer.

Clam digging

In the spring season, you can enjoy clam digging for clams and ark shells in the Ariake Sea. Using rakes and shovels, people gather a plentiful harvest of shells during low tide.

In Japan, clam digging is typically done by directly entering the beach. However, in the case of the Ariake Sea, known for its extensive tidal flats, a unique characteristic is that people take boats to reach the areas where clam digging can be done.

Please get in touch with INAKAdventure to discuss your travel adventure to the Ariake Sea area in Kyushu.

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