Embraced by the green-shrouded Mt. Aso and the Kuju mountain range, Taketa City—also known as the Castle Town of Taketa—is located in central Kyushu and is known for its picturesque scenery, carbonated hot springs and historic heritage.
Sightseeing Around Town
Oka Castle Ruins: Its history dates back to 1185, and has been known as the impenetrable castle casting its shadow over the Kuju mountain range, Mt. Aso and Mt. Sobo. Come spring, the castle ruins are framed by cherry blossoms and in the fall, sprinkled with autumn leaves.
Rentaro Tunnel: Located near the Taki Rentaro Museum—a composer whose former home is now a museum and also worth checking out—this tunnel plays Rentaro tunes when visitors enter.
Bukeyashiki Street: This street, which was once home to 13 samurai residences, offers a glimpse into the past as the residences’ walls and gates still stand.
Kanonji Temple Sixteen Arhats: Visitors to Kanonji Temple are greeted by 16 stone statues that line the steps up the temple. The Sixteen Arhats, incidentally, are Buddhist disciples.
Aizendo Shrine: The deity Aizen-Myoo is enshrined here, in the oldest building in Taketa. Those looking for love should pop in, as legend says that prayers for finding love are answered here.
Christian Cave Chapel: Christianity flourished in Taketa in the mid-16th century. Here, masses were conducted in secret due to the suppression of Christianity, and it is believed that the cave next to the chapel sheltered Christian priests from persecution.
Kuju Flower Park: Here, flower aficionados will feel like a kid in a candy store as they encounter over 200 species of flowers, with two million flowers blooming in the seasons.
Hiking: One of the most popular ways to explore this whole area is via hiking, with early June being the start of the mountain climbing season in Kuju.
Festival Time: During the Taketa Bamboo Lantern Festival, which takes place in early November, about 20,000 bamboo lanterns illuminate the castle town.
Those Famed “Soda” Hot Springs
Many of Taketa’s hot springs are carbonated, which means those bathing in the hot springs can spend a longer time bathing at relatively lower temperatures—higher temperature results in loss of carbonation—with small, fine bubbles caressing the skin. While visitors are soaking in the hot springs, they’ll also be taking in the area’s beautiful surroundings—Taketa is located in Aso Kuju National Park—and hanging with locals as soaking in hot springs is part of the fabric of every day life here.
Recommend the Nagayu Onsen, which was once regularly visited by the feudal lords of the Oka clan during the Edo period, or the Gozenyu Onsen, where visitors can relax while listening to the stream of the Serikawa River.
Hang With the Locals
Another way to hang with the locals is by staying at a farmer’s home, and there are several to choose from in Taketa. A stay at Noson Juku Inasaku, for example, includes learning the art of growing rice, from sowing rice seedlings to rice planting and harvesting. Nearby visitors can go fishing, soak in a hot spring, and go vegetable and fruit picking. At the family-run winery, Budo-no-ie, Keido-an, guests will enjoy views of the Kuju mountain range, while at Mitai Shiitake-en, guests pick Shiitake mushrooms, and go river fishing and trekking. Rates start at approximately $50 per night with two meals.
From Tokyo, it’s about an hour and 40 minutes by air departing from Haneda Airport; from Narita Airport, it’s a 2-hour flight to get to Oita Airport. Then about another two hours by bus and train to get to the Bungo-Takta Station.
For more information, visit taketan.jp/en.