Takeo Onsen (武雄温泉) is a hot spring town in western Saga Prefecture that is said to have a history of over 1300 years as an onsen destination. 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 are enjoying 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 (400 yen), has two simple pools (a hot one and very hot one) for each gender, while the Horaiyu (400 yen) provides each gender with one, even simpler pool. The third bath, the Saginoyu (600 yen) has more facilities, including a sauna and outdoor baths. Furthermore, there are a few private baths available that require reservations (1900-3800 yen per hour).