Naruko Onsen-Kyo Village: diverse waters in Tohoku’s great spa town
At the northernmost point of Miyagi Prefecture are the five hot springs that make up Naruko Onsen-kyo Village. This prominent hot spring area in Tohoku contains nine of Japan’s 11 hot spring water types, with over 400 sources in the vicinity. As each inn draws on a different source, the color and texture of water varies allowing visitors a wide range of spring water experiences.
Naruko Onsen, at the center of Naruko Onsen-kyo Village, has been celebrated since ancient times as one of the “Three Famous Hot Springs in Oshu” (the old name for this region) alongside Iizaka Onsen in Fukushima Prefecture and Akiu Onsen in Miyagi Prefecture. Here, there are three footbaths and one handbath, in addition to modern ryokan inns and day-use hot springs such as Taki no Yu and Naruko / Waseda Sajiki Yu. As they are free of charge, it’s easy to experience many kinds of hot springs even without staying overnight.
For photographers to enjoy strolling, kokeshi dolls scattered throughout the village give a photogenic twist to the town. Naruko is famous as the birthplace of “kokeshi,” which are traditional wooden child-shaped dolls. In addition to the dolls around town, many other objects beckon your lens like the face cut-out panels and kokeshi doll-shaped mailboxes. For bathers, the Naruko Onsen-kyo Village and Mogami Onsen-kyo Village combo hot spring ticket is highly recommended. With kokeshi-decorated Tegata, tickets are sold at the Naruko Kanko/Ryokan Annai Center (Tourist and Ryokan Information Center).
A short walk from town is a mysterious lagoon, the caldera-lake Katanuma where the surface changes color from emerald green to blue or milky white depending on the weather and the amount of sulfur in the water. Although renowned as one of the most acidic lakes in the world, in the summer you can enjoy activities such as hiking, SUP (standup paddle boarding), boat rides and more.
Naruko Onsen is an acclaimed hot spring resort where people have come to be healed by the various waters since antiquity. No matter how many times you visit, the many inns will constantly provide new experiences, so do please come again and again.
Tokyo Sta. -> 120 min by Tohoku Shinkansen -> Sendai Sta. -> 15 min by Tohoku Shinkansen -> Furukawa Sta. -> 40 min by JR Rikuu East Line (rapid train) -> Naruko Onsen
Naruko Spa Tourist Association
*The information herein is as of April 2021.