There is a place called Takeo where there is a famous old hot spring, and many tourists have visited the place since ancient days. Even now, the area continues to be a tourist destination. There is an old wooden building that is over a hundred years old at the site of the hot spring. The building is now a visitor’s center. A large red gate called Romon Gate is at the entrance of the building. The building was designed by Kingo Tatsuno, a local architect. He is also known for designing Tokyo Station.
According to a guidebook, the Romon Gate was inspired by the image of Ryugu-Jo
Castle. Yes, that is the castle under the sea in the old children’s story of Urashima Taro.
When I first saw a picture of the Romon Gate, I was itching to visit the gate. The gate will lead me to a hot spring where I can heal and relax, though I am not sure if the same thing can be said about Ryugu-Jo Castle.
Not only the locals but tourists from many countries also come here. Takeo is a well-known spa resort. For a foreigner who lives here like me, things are more comfortable when you pretend to be a tourist from abroad. Once the locals find out that I live here, they get curious and shower me with questions, such as “Where are you from?” and “Where do you live now?” If I say I live in Wakaki, they will ask where in Wakaki. If I tell them I am from Thailand, they will ask about Thailand and never let me go. I imagine Urashima Taro, a young fisherman who visited Ryugu-jo Castle in the eponymous story, must have been peppered with burning questions, too. “Young man, where are you from?” “Tell me what it is like to live on land,” etc.
In the story, Urashima Taro returns from Ryugu-jo Castle with a souvenir box from the princess of the castle. After he opens the box, he becomes an old man. However, please do not worry. Here at Takeo Spa, the exact opposite will happen. The spa helps regenerate your skin. When you soak in the spa for a long time, like when I was thrown a barrage of questions, your skin may become temporarily wrinkly. However, after that, you will surely feel refreshed!
Author name: Noi
Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand
I live in Wakaki-cho, Takeo City, Saga Prefecture, together with my Japanese husband, raising our child.
In Thailand, I used to do art and publication-related work.
I have a Kyushu Special Zone Guide-interpreter’s license (in Thai).