With the completion of the new Shinkansen line in Kyushu, you may hear the name of Takeo onsen as it it the eastern most station on the line. If you are traveling from Fukuoka to Nagasaki, you will have to change train here between the limited express train and the shinkansen. However, today I am inviting you to properly stop by Takeo onsen to visit this teamLab permanent exhibition.
The exhibition is setup at Mifuneyama Rakuen hotel, that is located next to the garden of the same name. There garden also host the seasonal teamLab exhibition A Forest Where Gods Lives. However, here I will only talk about the Ruins and Heritage exhibition that is always open.
Before anything, I would like to talk about the ticketing options. There is three ways you can access it, by purchasing a ticket to the exhibition only for 700¥, get a ticket for the Rakan open-air bath for 3850¥ or finally book a room for the night at the hotel. As for myself, I went with the second option, so I will write about my experience with it.
You should probably book your ticket first as it is limited to a total of 40 person by gender by day, divided in four time slots of 2h30. To book it is a bit tricky, from the link on the teamLab website, click on the online link for the ticket you want to buy and not on the ticket link on top of the page.
I booked the 15:00 to 17:30 time, so before going, I had time to visit the Mifuneyama rakuen garden, as it is not included in the ticket price, however you might want to visit at night as they seems to always have illuminations at night even if it is not the teamLab exhibition.
At 3pm, I went up the hill on the left of the garden entrance. The hotel is located at the very top of the hill. Outside I got asked if I had a reservation, showed my reservation e-mail and got directed to the entrance, where you get welcomed in the first room of the exhibition, that is the lobby of the hotel. After paying, I received a map, all in Japanese, as well as a wristband. I then quickly checked the other two installations, but my priority was the onsen as I had a timed ticket.
To get to the bath, you use the staircase then walk mostly straight until you get to a corridor on the left, then follow it to the end where the entrance of the onsen is located. On the male side, there is two main bath, one inside and one outside, there is also a cold bath, a sauna and a room to relax. In the room there is a fireplace as well as a counter with some snacks, pudding, hot bancha tea, cold green tea and flavored detox water. Between the sauna, the onsen, cooling down and relaxing, I probably spent about two hours there. Eating a nice pudding while watching the last cherry petals fly around, I could not ask for more, I even though the girls might not be as lucky if the do not have the flowers on their side… then I saw the pictures of the females side later and they have a really nice setting too, they even have an extra mist sauna.
Now for the teamLab part of the experience. Once exiting the onsen, I went back to the long corridor and turned left, there is actually circules with the artwork numbers with an arrow to indicate the direction. Again, following the corridor, you will eventually get to a point where the walls are broken and you feel that you just got in the ruins of the old onsen.
The first installations is a long corridor illuminated by lanterns with a big flame at the end. For this part, you are invited to download the app called Distributed Fire and as you get closer to the piece, the fire will move to your phone and you will be able to bring back a piece of it back home. It apparently also react to other peoples with the app, but could not test it as I did not see other people while there. The second installation is in one of the bath area and is a projection with flower patterns on the walls. The third is also in a bath area, and this time there is several megaliths emerging from the ground and they are literally big screens that shows different animations.
While there is an access to the garden next to this section, I went back to the entrance to spend more time to see these installations. As mentioned before, the first one is in the lobby, it is the hanging light that I think is one of the installations type they are well known for. The whole room is really beautiful with the lights and it feel much bigger as the walls are covered by mirrors. The second is more simple and is just a moving picture of a flower arrangement. Then the last one is a kind of 3D screen that display a burning flame, the piece itself probably have as much impact as the large and dark room where it is located. While I briefly mentioned it before, I did not see many people around the art installations, so I had all the time and freedom to enjoy them.
The last step was to receive the free drink at the En Tea House that is located in the lobby. It was actually a simple cup of cold tea that you get in exchange for your wristband. However, there is other drinks available on the menu if you want. Note that the face towel note on the website is a bit confusing as it only means they have towels in the onse, so you do not need to bring your own.
Overall, while this is in the higher price range for a onsen (but also not unheard of), you do receive what I consider a premium experience. You get a nice onsen bath and a good place to relax making it easy to spend time.