Japan’s northern Tohoku region is the ideal getaway for those looking to relax in an onsen (hot spring bath) among breathtaking nature. 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, and the hot spring water is said to have healing properties. Before you soak in said healing waters though, take your time to discover the local nature gems.
Naruko Onsen in autumn and winter
Numerous hiking paths around Naruko Onsen will lead you through canyons and forests. The beauty of these trails helped inspire the famous poet Basho, who was struck by the scenery.
Located about 2 km from Naruko Onsen is Naruko Gorge, an ideal hiking experience for koyo, a Japanese tradition of viewing the colorful autumn foliage. There are several parking areas near the path, but the Narukokyo Resthouse has (paid) parking and is the best spot to view Ofukazawa Bridge (below).
Another great hike is along the Hosomichi trail, an approximately 9 km 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 with Onikobe Ski Resort being a hotspot for skiing and other snow activities.
Hot spring hopping the Naruko way
Naruko features almost 400 different mineral-rich water sources. For onsen enthusiasts, there are many different types of baths to try. Here are some of the most popular within the village.
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