Nestled between the more popular Fukuoka and Nagasaki prefectures, the historic Japanese prefecture of Saga, in the north of Kyushu, is often underrated and overlooked. But with more than 10% of Saga dedicated to parks its natural beauty is hard to ignore, and is well worth a visit for those travelling around Japan. Saga is one of the few prefectures where surf meets ski. Karatsu offers some of the best surfing in Kyushu, while Tenzan Ski Resort offers an altogether more alpine experience. From the top of Mount Sefuri – the largest in the Sefuri Mountain Range – the views of this stunning region are breathtaking, and the climb is a mere 3 hours to the peak.
Set within the lush Mifuneyama Rakuen Garden, which dates from the latter Edo Period, in Takeo-Onsen hot spring town with a 1,300-year history, the serene and extraordinarily exquisite Onyado Chikurintei inn features just 11 elegant and exquisitely fashioned guest rooms surrounded by dense wild forest and 495,000m² of landscaped gardens, including a number of rare cherry blossom trees. Each guest room has been lovingly designed with its own unique personality, to seamlessly integrate the architecture into the tranquil natural environment that surrounds Onyado Chikurintei, and take full advantage of its unique setting and historic location.
Upon arrival, guests are welcomed into an intimate entrance area, where they remove their shoes before stepping onto the tatami floor. Vast, window-lined hallways lead visitors to their private rooms, with transparent glazing seemingly bringing the outdoors in, and the walk itself feeling much like a peaceful transition into the beautiful nature that surrounds the site. Room layouts have been designed to maximise the scenic views of the surrounding gardens and tune guests into Mifuneyama Rakuen garden’s hundreds of thousands of trees and flowering plants which provide a kaleidoscope of differing colours in each of the four seasons.
Onyado Chikurintei‘s largest and most exclusive accommodation is the VIP ‘SHUHO’ room, a spacious and serene space that once hosted Japan’s Imperial family, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.