The faint smell of sulfur drifts through this quiet, peaceful onsen town. The Miyagi Olle Osaki / Naruko Hot Spring Trail is located in Osaki, a city in the northwestern part of Miyagi Prefecture. The western part of this city is adjacent to Yamagata and Akita Prefectures. This trail will take you along the deep gorges formed by the erosion of the Oyagawa River and small paths where the Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Interior) lies. Along the way, you can enjoy the hot springs which this area is famous for, including hand and foot baths.
The trail starts from Naruko-kyo Gorge, which is known as one of Tohoku's largest gorges. As you approach, you will be overwhelmed by the greatness of the gorge, which has a depth of 100 meters. Brilliant lush greenery paints the gorge in spring. In the fall, the landscape turns into a stunning display of red and yellow autumn foliage. The scenery of the Naruko-kyo Gorge, which changes its appearance every season, is absolutely picturesque.
On the walking path connecting Nakayamadaira and Naruko Hot Springs, you will pass through the Oku no Hosomichi, a path where many historical figures have walked, including “Matsuo Basho”, Japan's most famous 17th-century haiku poet. Naruko Onsen Shrine, a well-known shrine since the Heian Period is said to be where Naruko Hot Springs all started. Furthermore, the Naruko Onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village is designated as a “People's Recreational Spring” by the Ministry of the Environment, and there you can enjoy 9 different spring types out of the total 11 types in all of Japan. At the Yumeguri Square, you can soak your hands in hot spring water at the “Hand Baths.” The footbath at the Naruko Onsen Station, which is also the finishing point of the trail, is a Japanese cypress wood bathtub that heals your legs from the hike and provides a space for everyone to sit back, relax and enjoy a conversation.
Another way to enjoy the Osaki / Naruko Hot Spring Trail is to walk along the Naruko Onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village lined with traditional shops and eateries. You will be gravitated to the attractiveness of the quaint old-fashioned shops, while the curiosity of travelers will transform Naruko Onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village into a new walking trail. A large-headed doll with a balanced, slender body and chrysanthemum motif are the distinctive features of “Naruko Kokeshi,” a traditional wooden doll that represents Naruko. The Kokeshi doll, crafted by around 30 artisans in the area, have a precise and natural taste with a “Simplicity that never gets old,” and is a good representation of the spirit of the Osaki / Naruko Hot Spring Trail.
Naruko-kyo Gorge is a scenic spot where brilliant fresh greeneries shine from the beginning of May onwards, and the massive gorge, eroded by the Oyagawa River, with a depth of 100 meters is covered in beautiful red and yellow autumn leaves during mid-October to the beginning of November. The amazing various shaped rock surfaces on both sides of the gorge, and the scenery that changes its appearance with every season are also the highlights of this area.
This is a spot where you can view the great “Naruko-kyo Gorge” from the bottom. An optional route of this trail. Although there are steep slopes, the scenic view with spectacular surface rock outcroppings is breathtaking (approx. 700 meters roundtrip).
It was said to be the toughest area to traverse in “Oku no Hosomichi.” While thankfully there is a bridge, the scenery remains just as beautiful. On a hot day, you can experience the cool sense of the flowing river.
Oku no Hosomichi
“Dewa Sendai Kaido Nakayama-goe,” is an ancient route designated as a national cultural property and closely associated with Matsuo Basho. Many travelers come to visit this path to honor and follow the footsteps of the Haiku master poet Basho. “Tabi ni yande / yume wa kareno o / kakemeguru (Sick on a journey, my dreams wander the withered fields),” is a poem that Matsuo Basho wrote, which considered the journey as a metaphor for life.
Japan Kokeshi Museum
Kokeshi dolls from all over the Tohoku region are displayed at the museum. Visitors can experience wood carving, Rokuro (lathe) painting at the production demonstration corner and can also paint dolls to make their own original Kokeshi (additional fee required). You'll also get to see a panoramic view of the Naruko Hot Spring Village from Naruko Park.
Shitomae no Seki
A checkpoint established by the Date clan, where Basho and his apprentice Sora were eyed with suspicion and checked thoroughly in 1689. With Basho's statue and a Kuhi (a stone tablet inscribed with a haiku) placed near the area, you can feel the rich history of this region.
Naruko Onsen Shrine
A hot spring shrine well known to the capital since the Heian Period. It is said that the gushing natural hot spring waters from this shrine was the start of the Naruko Hot Spring.
Yumeguri Square “Hand Bath”
An open square for hot spring hopping with a corridor lined with “Hand Baths” for you to enjoy hot spring water with your hands. Since there's a foot bath at the goal area, you can take your time and enjoy the atmosphere of the onsen village as much as you like.
Naruko Onsen Station “Poppo-no-ashi-yu” foot bath
Naruko Onsen Information Center (Open all year round)
*The Naruko Onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village is designated as “People's Recreational Spring” by the Ministry of the Environment. There, you can enjoy 9 different spring types out of a total of 11 types in Japan.
By purchasing the “Yu-meguri” ticket, visitors can enjoy the hot springs at the ryokans without having to stay overnight.Sold at ryokans or the Tourism & Ryokan Information Center at Naruko Onsen Station
Naruko-kyo Rest House
Udon noodles, soba noodles, curry rice, pork rice bowl
Pork cutlet rice bowl, ramen noodles set
Poached egg curry rice, mountain vegetable soba noodles
Naruko Yakisoba with Okuzukake, Soft-boiled “Onsen” egg curry
Poached egg curry rice, mountain vegetables and mushroom soba noodles
Light Meal / Café Maruyu
Classic Spaghetti Napolitana (Ketchup-based spaghetti), poached egg curry rice
A big-headed wooden doll with a balanced, slender body and a chrysanthemum motif, are the distinctive features that the popular Naruko Kokeshi is known for. The doll is crafted by the “Hamekomi Method,” a special method of inserting the head into the body so that when completed, their heads squeak when turned. There are shops where you can see the artisans making the dolls or shops where you can experience hand-painting them.
This lacquerware is said to have started over 350 years ago and the skills to produce such craftworks are still passed on to this day. Its distinctive feature lies in the painting technique called “Kijiro-nuri,” which the lacquer is applied to the wood turned on a lathe, bringing out the beauty in the wood grain. Also, there is a unique method called Ryumon-nuri, an ink-spilling technique that gives the product a seemingly moist beauty.
Try this dish at a certified traditional restaurant, which was established after being proposed by the professional sumo Miyagino Stable as part of the disaster recovery efforts.
The “Kuri Dango” with a whole sweetened chestnut wrapped inside a mochi (sticky rice cake) is a local specialty of Naruko Hot Spring. You can eat them hot and fresh from the kitchen at the shops.
Mochi Rice Cake Store “Fukase”
Osaki City is located in the northwestern part of Miyagi Prefecture, 40 kilometers north of Tohoku's largest city, “Sendai”. A region with a prosperous agricultural industry since ancient times, due in part to vast its fields of fertile “Osaki Tilled Soil,” this area has been designated as a “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Site.” Also, the city takes pride in its local sake made in a rich, natural environment using high-quality rice. Traditional crafts carrying an air of culture and history such as the “bamboo crafts” of Iwadeyama, or “Naruko Kokeshi” dolls and “Naruko Lacquerware” continue to be passed down generations and famous nationwide.
The local sake is made nearby the flowing Eaigawa and Narusegawa Rivers, which enrich the land with a sense of “eternity.” The golden-colored rice grown in the vast Osaki plain, which includes part of the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Site of the “Osaki Tilled Soil” fields is also used in sake production.
Osaki City is blessed with high-quality and delicious water and rice, and several sake breweries produce sake with overflowing passion, producing great sake with character.
Enjoy tasting the sake products filled with the uncompromising dedication of each brewery.
|○Tanaka Shuzoten Osaki-kura Sake Brewery||Address 3-2 Yashiki, Furukawa Mayose, Osaki City TEL 0229-22-0061|
|○Ichinokura||Address 14, Ookeyaki, Matsuyama Sengoku, Osaki City TEL 0229-55-3322|
|○Kanbai Shuzo Sake Brewery||Address 15 Sakaida, Furukawa Kashiwazaki, Osaki City TEL 0229-26-2037|
|○Asakan Shuzoten Sake Brewery||Address 87 Kitayachi, Furukawa Yanome, Osaki City TEL 0229-26-2255|
|○Niizawa Jyozoten Brewery||Address 63 Kitamachi, Sanbongi, Osaki City TEL 0229-52-3002|
|○Moritami Shuzoten Sake Brewery||Address 15 Kamikawaramachi, Iwadeyama Osaki City TEL 0229-72-1010|
|○Hashihei Shuzoten Sake Brewery||Address 3-10 Furukawa Nanokamachi, Osaki City TEL 0229-22-0335|
One of the prominent caldera lakes in the country, formed by a volcanic eruption. The smell of sulfur drifts in the air due to the strong acidity of the lake. There are boats as well as promenades, and visitors can also enjoy walking through nature.
Visitors will also notice the mystical atmosphere of the lake surface which turns different colors, such as emerald green, depending on the weather.
At the Naruko Onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village, you can enjoy 9 different spring types out of the total 11 spring types in Japan.The area consists of “Higashi-Naruko Hot Spring,” “Kawatabi Hot Spring,” “Naruko Hot Spring,” “Nakayamadaira Hot Spring,” and “Onikobe Hot Spring.” This area has been well known as a hot spring resort of the Tohoku Region since ancient times, where farmers would come to recharge themselves after a long day of farming. The hot springs are highly reputed for their abundance of hot water and different spring types along with therapeutic properties. It is the only hot spring to be designated as a “People's Recreational Spring” within Miyagi Prefecture.
Osaki City, Tourism and Exchange Division TEL. 0229-23-7097
・Closed during winter season from the end of November to the end of April.
・Between early October and the beginning of November, you will be charged a parking fee when using the Naruko-kyo Rest House parking lot.
・Beware of wild bears that may cross your path.