With hot springs galore and autumn colors, it's Naruko Gorge-ous.
To relax in an onsen (hot spring bath) among breathtaking nature, the northern Tohoku region is the ideal getaway for locals and tourists alike.
Especially scenic in autumn and winter is Naruko Onsen Village in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. Not too far from Sendai City, the area has an abundance of onsen and nature for hiking and winter sports.
Geographically, the area was formed from a volcano over 1,000 years ago, so the hot spring water is said to have healing properties. But, before travelers soak in healing waters, they can discover local nature gems.
Take a hike
There are numerous hiking paths that lead you through canyons and forests. In fact, the beauty of these trails helped inspire the famous poet Basho, who was struck by the scenery.
Japan's Scenic Northeastern Region
Another great hike is along the Hosomichi trail, approximately 9KM of road which goes up through the mountains into Yamagata Prefecture, and overlooks the flowing rivers below. Naruko is also an ideal place for winter sports. Onikobe Ski Resort is a hotspot for skiing and other snow activities.
Onsen it up
Naruko features almost 400 different mineral-rich water sources. For onsen enthusiasts, there are many different types of hot-water baths to try. Popular area hot spring locales are:
- Naruko onsen
- Higashi-Naruko onsen
- Kawatabi onsen
- Nakayamadaira onsen
- Onikobe onsen
Aside from the baths, there are dozens of hotels, gift shops, and restaurants. If you’d like, many hotels in the area can provide a yukata (a casual, light-weight kimono) for you to wear. Weather permitting, stroll the grounds of Naruko in style.
At the gift shops, you can buy Kokeshi Dolls, wooden crafts that are specialty of the region. The cute toys have been a tradition since the early 19th century, are still hand-made by craftsmen to this day and make for a great souvenir. Head up to Miyagi for incredible views by day that are rewarded with relaxing hot spring baths by night.
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