Enjoy Hot Springs, History, and Autumn Scenery: Takeo Autumn Garden Viewing Guide

Takeo in Saga Prefecture has many beautiful autumn color spots that delight visitors year after year. With highlights that include the famous Mifuneyama Rakuen Gardens, which spread almost 50 hectares at the foot of Mt Mifune's cliff face, and Keishu-en Gardens, created by master garden designer Kinsaku Nakane, there is a wealth of historical and natural beauty to enjoy here. The area's Takeo Onsen hot springs are also famous for their mineral-rich thermal waters. We can't think of a better combination than getting off the beaten track and enjoying gorgeous scenery and Japanese hot springs this autumn, so read on for all you need to know!


Things to Do

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Why Visit Takeo?

Takeo is a small city in Saga Prefecture, located in Japan's southern island of Kyushu. Just 70 minutes by express train from Hakata Station and 30 minutes from Saga Station, Takeo is an easy place to escape to for an onsen retreat in Kyushu. 

The two-storied Romon tower gate is a symbol of the town. Built in the Meiji era, the gate is a nationally-designated Important Cultural Property that serves as the entrance to the hot spring area. In fact, Takeo's history as a hot spring destination for Japan's nobility and royalty is said to date back as far as 1,200 years. Today it's still a popular destination thanks to its soft, clear waters. Rich in sodium bicarbonate, it's said these thermal waters help ease a range of symptoms and leave bathers with beautifully soft skin.

Takeo has a number of baths and quality hot spring accommodation to choose from, but that's not all there is to do here! Takeo has plenty of seasonal scenery to enjoy. Read on for all the autumn events happening in Takeo this November and December!

Mifuneyama Rakuen Gardens Autumn Festival

Mifuneyama Rakuen is Takeo's most famous garden, and is well known for its vast gardens overlooked by Mt Mifune's dramatic cliff face. The view of the autumn foliage and mountain landscape reflected in the tranquil Kagami Ike, or "Mirror Pond," is known to be particularly stunning in the fall.


Just before the official start of the autumn viewing period you can catch the last days famous digital artist collective TeamLab's installation, A Forest Where Gods Live. Running until December 8th, 2019, this immersive, high-tech installation spread throughout the gardens is well worth checking out if you have the chance.

Even if you miss the main event dates, an interactive light-based piece, Forest and Spiral of Resonating Lamps in the Forest - One Stroke will remain on permanent exhibition.

Koyaji Temple: Autumn Festival at the Rhododendron Temple

Koyaji Temple is nicknamed the Rhododendron Temple for its 2000 beautifully-landscaped rhododendron trees that flower from mid-April to early May, some of which are up to 300 years old. 

The temple's autumn festival is known locally as a hidden gem among Saga's many excellent fall spots. The contrast between the bright green moss, vivid autumn foliage, and the temple's crimson pagoda nestled among the trees makes for a magical sight. Roofed walkways are also available so that visitors can enjoy the view come rain or shine.

Keishu-en Japanese Garden Autumn Colors

Keishu-En gardens were designed by Kinsaku Nakane, a famous garden designer who worked on the design and restoration of famous Japanese gardens around the world.

Designed as a strolling-style pond garden, this garden is designed with paths that lead viewers on a stroll around a large central pond. The technique of shakkei, or "borrowed landscape," has also been skillfully used to incorporate Mt. Mifune and surrounding landscape into the design of the garden. 

In the autumn, the rich reds of the maples and delicate white flowers of the tea plants on the grounds make for a lovely combination. Yoko Museum, which exhibits the type of classical Chinese ceramics that influenced the ceramics industry in Saga, is also available to visit on the grounds.

Kofukuji Temple Autumn Colors

Kofukuji Temple is a historical site that was first founded in the Kamakura period (1185 - 1333). The beautiful stone-paved approach to the temple is known as a "maple tunnel" in the autumn thanks to the beautiful colors of the trees that envelop it. This temple also houses an Important Cultural Property, a wooden statue of the Four Heavenly Kings, which was said to have been made in the mid-Kamakura period. 

Kofukuji Temple is just a short walk from the Takeo hot spring area, so why not combine a stroll through the grounds here with a relaxing soak in Takeo's healing thermal waters?

Take an Autumn Viewing Tour in Takeo, Saga!

If you're looking for a relaxing autumn getaway off the beaten track, consider a visit to Takeo to indulge in the beautiful scenery and high quality hot springs the town offers. 

For more holiday ideas in southern Japan, check out our guide to the 10 most famous hot spring areas in Kyushu! 

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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

About the author

Rebecca is an Australian translator and writer based in Kyoto. In her downtime she likes train travel, karaoke, and horror movies.

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