Takeo Onsen, in western Saga, is an ancient hot spring whose soft, silky waters, reputed to be beneficial to the skin, have been written about since the eighth century.
According to myth, Empress Jingu created the hot spring by striking her spear into the ground. The fame of the hot spring spread when none other than Hideyoshi wrote about it. In the Edo Period a post station of the Nagasaki Kaido that connected Nagasaki with Kokura and point east on Honshu was built and several lavish bathrooms were constructed for the lords and dignitaries who stayed here.
The town of Takeo Onsen is now home to many luxury resort hotels as well as small, traditional ryokan, but in my quest to find somewhere to stay within my budget I found the best deal at the public onsen.
Located at the top of the town underneath Mount Horai, the public baths are fronted by an Edo Period gate known as the Romon, which has now become the symbol of the town.
Within the grounds is the Ryokan Romontei, a large concrete building with many rooms and its own hot springs. Like the public onsen, it is also very popular and busy. The standard tatami room had a TV, fridge, kettle, etc as well as en-suite toilet. The public baths had free wifi but my room was at the back of the building and so the signal was too weak. The baths were nice and there was a rotenburo or outdoor bath.
For a single person with no meals I paid only 4,000 yen.
7425 Takeocho Oaza, Takeo, Saga
Tel: 0954 23 2111
Google map of Ryokan Romontei
The ryokan is less than 1 kilometer from Takeo Onsen Station on the JR Sasebo Line.
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