Saga Onsen

In Saga, we are very lucky to be close to a large number of natural onsen. In particular, Ureshino and Takeo are well known as hot spring resorts across Kyushu, if not the rest of Japan. Of course if you are willing to travel a bit further, Kyushu offers some of the best onsen bathing in all of Japan, but don’t forget to check in your local area too, as you might be surprised at what you can find.

Most onsen in Japan (including Saga) have lockers inside that require a 100yen coin deposit to be able to lock them. You get this back when you unlock it. Also, unless otherwise noted below, most will have some kind of products supplied in the washing area – usually body wash and rinse-in shampoo.

At most of the onsens listed here, staff are friendly but do not speak English. Except where indicated, all bathhouses have separate baths for men and women.

If you are not familiar with good onsen washing/bathing etiquette, see this website for more information. It also contains more reviews of many of the large onsen across Japan if this page is not enough for you!

Below is a run-down of many of the onsens you can find in and around Saga Prefecture. If you’re interested in other onsens around Kyushu, try this page.

Kyuragi

Kyuragi has one onsen, for what it’s worth. It’s a rather bland bathhouse with just one large tiled bath each for men and women. Not a natural onsen, just heated water that you have to pay to use. No washing products provided. Entry is 500 yen. Save your pennies; bathe at home.

Ushizu

Within Ogi City, the Ushizu area is home to a health and fitness centre called Airu and within this complex there is also a natural onsen. Known locally for its alkaline water that will turn your skin especially ‘tsuru tsuru’, it is popular mainly with older people but equally accessible for younger folk.

The onsen itself has both indoor and outdoor bath, as well as a sauna. The centre also houses a small training room (gym), 25m pool and circular ‘walking’ pool. Entry is 500 yen for use of pool and onsen; 150 yen to use the training room. Access is just off Route 34 near Ushizu bridge.

Takeo

Takeo Onsen is actually a collection of three separate bathhouses right next to each other within Takeo City, on the western side. Takeo is one of the most well-known ‘hot spring resorts’ within Saga Prefecture (second only to Ureshino). It is said that this hot spring was opened around the 8th century.

Access is via car (small car park in front of bathhouses or second larger car park up behind the complex) or about 15mins walk from Takeo Onsen Station.

The oldest bathhouse (actually contains two baths: Motoyu and Houraiyu) is the cheapest at 400yen, but only has an indoor bath. Bath temperature here is usually about 43 degrees, with a hotter 45 degree bath too.

The newest bathhouse – Saginoyu (built around 10 years ago) – is fairly small but has both indoor and outdoor baths. Entry is 600yen.

The third bathhouse has four private rooms/baths for hire (see pics below), ranging from 1,900 yen (2,300 yen on weekends) to 3,300 (weekend 3,800) per hour. Baths are hot (maybe 45 degrees) but can be cooled with a cold water tap. Open from 10am – 11pm.

TakeoOnsen2

Morodomi

Morodomi, on the south-eastern side of Saga City, has two onsen close by. One is the Shokaikyo Onsen and the other is Okawa Onsen.

Okawa Onsen

Okawa Onsen is actually about 20 minutes’ drive east of Morodomi. Take 208 into Okawa and then turn left on 442, following it up until you get to 385. Again, go left and follow the white signs for Okawa Onsen (in kanji), 大川温泉 is what you’re looking for. The onsen itself is tucked away in the middle of some fields, but they’ve gaudied it up with permanent Christmas lights so you can find it fairly easily.

This onsen, built around 2008 is special because the water contains Mohr’s salts — Ammonium Iron (II) sulfate, which is quite rare. The water is only 35 degrees C at the source, so not as hot as some baths, although this seems to attract a bit of a younger crowd who do not welcome scalding hot water the way Saga oldies do. Note also that the Mohr’s Salts have an odor that some people may not like.

Inside there are 2 deep tubs (one warm, one cool), and outside there is another landscaped large bath as well as a small steam room. The complex also has a large area to relax in and another shack that offers some body care services, such as akasuri (body scrub/exfoliation).

Entry is 500 yen. Open 10:00 am – 11:00 pm. Closed the 2nd and 4th Tuesday every month. Map link.

Kanzaki /Kurume

Technically in Kurume, but seemingly more like Kanzaki, on the eastern outskirts of Saga City, there is a well-known onsen called Sazanka no Yu. Perched up on a hillside, the outdoor baths at this onsen have a fantastic view over Saga City and the surrounding hills.

The indoor section of the bathhouse has 2 different temperature baths, as well as some individual baths with massage jets. Outdoor is a large main bath, a bath with seasonal salts/minerals/tea etc added, and another less hot bath with some privacy screens that you can kind of lie down in.

This is a fairly large and spacious bathhouse and complex, which also has a general lounge/relaxation area, massages available, dining area and cute store downstairs with local produce and fresh baked goods. Entry is 700 yen.

Sazanka no yu front

Sazanka no yu view

Karatsu

There is a nice, small, onsen near Hado Misaki. It’s connected with the campgrounds and cabins, and has a nice view of the ocean. Good shampoo, and soaps too! There is also the more central Kagami Onsen (map). Entry is 500yen and towel hire is 200yen.

Genkai

Next to Karatsu City, Parea Onsen in Genkai (map) has very nice facilities and is open until 10pm. Get there before 9pm and you’ll be fine. 500 yen for the onsen, 300yen for training, 300yen for pool. Website (Japanese/English).

Nanayama

Just outside the town of Nanayama (part of Karatsu City), there is a fairly large onsen nestled on the hillside, called Nana no yu. The onsen is natural and has regular gender-segregated bathing (both indoor and outdoor baths) as well as 4 kashikiri (private rental) baths. The complex is large and modern, and also has a large dining/rest area with tatami mats and tables to relax after your onsen. There is a cafeteria with a wide selection of Japanese food. There is also a paid massage service available.

Access is via car only, or maybe a 15min taxi ride from Hamasaki station in Karatsu.

Entry to the rental baths is 2000yen for 2 people for an hour, which is one of the cheaper rentals I have found within Saga, and these were nice baths with a leafy forest outlook. Body wash and rinse-in shampoo provided as normal, along with hair dryer in the changing room.

Nanayama2

Onsen reviews written predominantly by Penny Fox (Taku ALT 2009-12, Shiroishi ALT 2012-14)

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