Japan is divided into a total of 47 prefectures, and among them is a prefecture called "Saga." Geographically, it is located right next to Fukuoka, a region famous in Korea.
However, compared to Fukuoka, which is becoming a popular tourist destination that can be reached by train within an hour, Saga Prefecture has received relatively little recognition. Until recently, it ranked last in surveys on the prefectures Japanese adults had traveled to. Its area and population size are not particularly large.
Saga Prefecture is also not well-known among Koreans. To illustrate this, there was only one Korean low-cost airline serving flights to Saga Prefecture, and even that was suspended due to the COVID-19 situation until it resumed operations in September last year. Among the tourist attractions in Saga Prefecture is Ureshino Onsen, which is famous for its high-quality green tea production, and is also known for "Saga beef," which is considered one of the best types of Wagyu beef available in Japan.
Nevertheless, due to the relatively low recognition of Saga Prefecture, a decision has been made to conduct some unique projects. One of these is "Saga Surprise!" It is a collaboration project that promotes Saga Prefecture's name through collaborations with different companies' products, manga, animes, games, and more.
<Photo> Collaboration between Sage Prefecture and “Romancing Saga”
The results have been quite diverse. They included products from a well-known confectionery company, as well as animes such as "Yuri!!! on ICE," the "Zombie Land Saga" series, and the "Shima Kousaku" series - all featuring Saga Prefecture. In terms of games, there were titles like Square Enix's "Romancing Saga," Nintendo's "Pokémon," and "Splatoon." Additionally, with a focus on the game character "Sagat," collaborations were made with "Street Fighter."
In its latest endeavour, Saga Prefecture has embarked on its first collaboration project with a foreign company and a company outside Japan. That company is NCSOFT. They have joined forces with NCSOFT, the developer of "Lineage W," an MMORPG that brings together users from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and around the world. NCSOFT, has also partnered with Saga Prefecture for the first time among Korean companies.
<Photo> Yoshinori Yamaguchi, Governor of Sage Prefecture
Why did Saga Prefecture choose to collaborate with NCSOFT, a Korean company? Saga Prefecture Governor, Yoshinori Yamaguchi, explained that, "It is to ensure that users from Korea, Taiwan, and Japan can all enjoy the game together. We are delighted to contribute to bringing Asia together as one. I hope this collaboration will be successful."
The collaboration is divided into online and offline components. The online collaboration was conducted in January, when the "Saga Prefecture Expedition" was added to the Expedition tab of the "Lineage W" game's Magic Doll menu. Through this feature, players can explore Saga Prefecture's attractions, such as the "Takeo Onsen Numon" and "Yutoku Inari Shrine," and after their exploration, they can obtain "Saga Prefecture Commemorative Coins."
<Photo> Saga Prefecture Collaboration in “Lineage W”
These coins can be exchanged for various specialties of Saga Prefecture at the event store. The specialty items include the Karatsu Kunchi Red Lion Magic Doll Skin Card, Saga Prefecture beef, Marubouro, Ureshino tea, and more.
Moreover, on February 1st, the offline collaboration began in earnest. It consists of four main components: "Lineage W" Collaboration Art Gallery, "Lineage W" X Saga Prefecture Collaboration Merch, Magic Doll AR Spots, and "Lineage W" Concept Rooms.
<Photo> “Lineage W” Collaboration Art Gallery
At the "Lineage W" Collaboration Art Gallery located at Saga International Airport, updates and major episodes from "Lineage W" are arranged in chronological order. Each content item is displayed with major illustrations framed as artwork. Additionally, previously unreleased illustrations are being unveiled at the site.
<Photo> Execution Sword of Fidelity 1:1 Size Model
Furthermore, the actual model of the "Execution Sword of Fidelity," a representative item of "Lineage W," is being exhibited for the first time in Japan. Produced in Korea, it was directly transported to Japan and is displayed in a protected case.
<Photo> “Lineage W'”Saga Prefecture Collaboration Merch on Sale
The "Lineage W" X Saga Prefecture Collaboration Merch are being sold at a venue situated across from the art gallery. They include Imari pottery themed on the four major dragons of "Lineage W," "Aiyama 34," a sake with the same history as "Lineage," Ureshino tea, canvas arts and handkerchiefs, and Marubouro, a traditional Saga Prefecture snack.
The AR Spot collaboration, where visitors can take pictures with "Lineage W"'s Magic Doll, is being held at four tourist spots: Takeo Onsen, Hikiyama Exhibition Hall, Chaoshiru, and Yutoku Inari Shrine.
<Photo> Takeo Onsen Numon
First, Takeo Onsen has a history of over 1,300 years and is famous for its good water quality. It is a place where visitors can admire the unique design of the gate and bathhouse erected by the engineering specialist Kingo Tatsuno, and learn about the 12 gods associated with the gate.
Next, the Hikiyama Exhibition Hall is a place where the Hikiyama used in the group cart-pulling event "Karatsu Kunchi," held in November, is exhibited. The Karatsu Kunchi festival is recognized for its authenticity, and is included in UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
<Photo> Hikiyama used in Karatsu Kunchi
Here, the Hikiyamas made until 1876, including the red lion of Katanamachi made in 1819, are exhibited. The Hikiyama that appeared in "Lineage W" feature red and blue lions, all of which are over 200 years old.
<Photo> Ureshino Tea Exchange Museum “Chaoshiru”
Additionally, Chaoshiru is the Ureshino tea exchange hall, where visitors can learn about the history of Ureshino tea, a specialty of Saga Prefecture. In addition, you can learn how to make this tea and how to drink it properly.
<Photo> Yutoku Inari Shrine
Lastly, Yutoku Inari Shrine was built in 1687 and is one of Japan's three major Inari shrines, along with Fushimi Inari and Kasama Inari. As such, it is established as a popular spot that is visited by 3 million people annually. Combined with the art gallery and the Death Knight photo spot operating at Saga International Airport, you can meet the Magic Doll in a total of five places.
<Photo> Death Knight Photo Spot at Saga International Airport
NC JAPAN looked at the recommended places among many tourist spots, and ultimately selected four places where users can experience what is unique to Saga Prefecture when they visit the region.
At "Furuyu Onsen ONCRI," rooms decorated with the theme of the four major dragons - FaFurion, Lindvior, Antharas, and Valakas - who appear in "Lineage W," are being operated.
<Photo> “Lineage W” Themed Rooms, the “Lineage W” Lord's Cloak is Given to Guests on a First Come, First Served Basis
Here, beds engraved with dragons, related game asset frames, collaboration commemorative items, etc., are provided to guests. In addition, a red velvet Lord's Cloak is offered to the first 70 people in line. Furthermore, a dinner set menu based on the game universe is available in the restaurant.
As Saga Prefecture's major tourist attractions have a very long history, they offer an unmodernized atmosphere. Combining this with "Lineage W," an online game where people from all over the world can meet, allows visitors to experience a special atmosphere that transcends time and borders. It is hoped that there will be more collaborations like this in the future.
The offline collaboration between "Lineage W" and Saga Prefecture will continue until March 3rd.
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