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Takeo Onsen (Y) is a hot spring town in western Saga Prefecture that is said to have a history of over 1300 years. Takeo's waters feel silky smooth on skin thanks to a high concentration of sodium bicarbonate. They have attracted a lot of people over the centuries, including powerful feudal lords, craftsmen and soldiers who were stationed at nearby Nagoya Castle outside of Karatsu at the end of the Azuchi-Momoyama Period in the 16th century.

Today, tourists and locals can enjoy Takeo Onsen's waters at several public bathhouses found around the town's iconic Sakura-mon, a two-storied, red-lacquered gate. The main public bath, Motoyu (500 yen), has two simple pools (a hot one and very hot one) for each gender, while the Horaiyu (500 yen) provides each gender with one, even simpler pool. The third bath, the Saginoyu (740 yen) has more facilities, including a sauna and outdoor baths. Furthermore, there are a few private baths available that require reservations (3000-4300 yen per hour).

Behind the Sakura-mon Gate stands the Takeo Onsen Shinkan, which was constructed in 1915 by the same architect who designed Tokyo Station's famous Marunouchi Station Building. The Shinkan used to serve as the town's public bath house in the past, but is now a museum that is free to enter, showcasing its tiled Roman baths and tatami-covered rest areas, which are not in use anymore.

Another attraction in the town is the Takeo City Library, Japan's first to combine conventional library services with a bookstore and coffee shop. The building's architecture is sleek, and the interior is lit by natural light coming in from large windows and a featured skylight. There is also a history museum corner, displaying a few objects related to the onsen town.

Getting there and around

How to get to Takeo Onsen

Takeo Onsen Station is where travelers to Nagasaki transfer between the limited express train and the Nishikyushu Shinkansen. From Fukuoka (Hakata Station) take the "Relay Kamome" limited express train to Takeo Onsen (60 minutes, around 3000 yen one way). The trip is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and Kyushu Rail Pass. From Nagasaki, the shinkansen ride takes 30 minutes and costs around 3000 yen.

How to get around Takeo Onsen

Takeo's central onsen district around the red gate and public baths is located about one kilometer west of Takeo Onsen Station, while the library is located about one kilometer south of the station. Both can be reached in about a 15 minute walk from the station.

Hours and Fees

Public Baths

Hours

Closed

Admission

Takeo City Library

Hours

Closed

Admission