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Takeo Shrine

Dating back to 735, the oldest thing on the shrine grounds is a giant camphor tree

By Elizabeth Sok

While the age of Takeo Shrine which dates back to 735 is impressive, the oldest thing on site is its giant camphor tree. To feel the weight of its tremendous branches bearing down on you, pay a visit to this ancient shrine in Saga.

Distinct for its white facade, this shrine makes for a unique sight when viewed against the base of nearby Mount Mifuneyama. The primary deity enshrined at the shrine is Takenouchi no Sukune, a legendary official from the first century who has appeared on several denominations of the Japanese yen.

Shrine Background

Takeo Shrine

Photo by: PIXTA/ MY.BLUE For hundreds of years, the shrine was considered to be an important one in the region.

The history of the shrine is steeped in myths and stories. For hundreds of years, the shrine was considered to be an important one in the region. One story that centers on Takeo Shrine is about the first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate who lived in the 12th century. According to legend, before winning a decisive battle, Minamoto no Yorimoto sent an envoy to Takeo to pray for victory. To honor this visit, yabusame (Japanese horseback archery) became a celebrated tradition at the shrine which holds demonstrations and events to this day.

Powerful Trees

Takeo Shrine

Photo by: PIXTA/ 秋AKI A Studio Ghibli-like tree.

Despite the age of the shrine, the main draw of the site is its famous trees. At approximately 3,000 years old and standing at 27 meters tall, the camphor tree residing at Takeo Shrine is the sixth largest tree in Japan. With an extensive root base stretching out to about 26 meters, this tree will bring to mind Studio Ghibli’s Totoro who resides within a similar titanic camphor.

Takeo Shrine

Photo by: PIXTA/ MY.BLUE The married couple.

Believe it or not, the camphor is not the only noteworthy tree that calls Takeo Shrine home. Two more trees on-site share a special relationship and are called a married couple. Growing side by side, these two cypresses have intertwined roots and branches, making them a popular attraction for not only romance but business as well.

Near the shrine, there is a horse stable with the purpose of training in the custom of yabusame. You can make a reservation one day in advance for a two-hour lesson which involves a primer on mounted archery, a chance to wear traditional archery attire and an opportunity to aim at a target while sitting on a real horse.

Things To Know


The shrine is open every day from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and admission is free.

How To Get There


By train

Take the JR Sasebo Line and get off at Takeo Onsen station. A taxi ride to the shrine will take about five minutes while a walk will be around 25 minutes. 

By car

From Fukuoka or Nagasaki, take the Nagasaki Expressway and get off at Takeo Kitagata IC. 

Where To Stay

Takeo Onsen Nakamasu Ryokan
  • 7377 Takeocho Takeo, Takeo-shi, Saga, 843-0022 Japan
  • ¥8,800 - ¥17,600
  • 4.11/5 (181 reviews)
  • 0.9 km

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