A favorite with locals but a well kept secret for the rest of the world, Naruko Onsen is a unique pocket of Japan truly unlike anywhere else. Incredible hot spring baths, classic old world crafts and beautiful scenery, a visit to this steamy onsen town feels like a step into another world. Situated in the northeastern pocket of Miyagi Prefecture, the area is located about 70 km from central Sendai so it's perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway, depending on how much time you have up your sleeve. With many things to see and do, how to adventure around Naruko Onsen is really up to the individual, however one thing is for sure and that's that after visiting you won't want to leave.
Even though it's located close to Miyagi's main city of Sendai, the onsen village feels like a world away. This otherworldly feeling is no doubt due in part to its location close to the the scenic and volcanic mountainsides. In fact the area is home to Lake Katanuma, a lake that was formed from volcanic explosions that are said to have happened around 18,000 years ago. With a highly acidic pH level of 1.6 this lake may not be the best for swimming, but it does provide a pretty incredible backdrop of mountain walks and hikes throughout the area.
Beyond the waters of Lake Katanuma, Naruko Onsen is home to some other pretty amazing bodies of water. The area is known for being a hotbed of hot spring activities. Wander through the area and keep a lookout for the local public hot spring footbaths that populate the area. Many of this small baths are open to the public for free and are still regularly used by locals as communal catch up spaces. There are in fact 400 individual hot spring water sources in the area which means that there's a bath for every skin type. Most hotels and ryokans also have their own individually sourced hot spring baths too so if it's hard to select an outside spring you can alway head back to your accommodation to enjoy the town's healing water.
Another unique way locals enjoy the hot spring water is by cooking onsen eggs in the naturally hot baths. Because of its more mild yet consistent temperature, these local baths are perfect for long cooking the perfect soft boiled egg. Simply served with a little sauce and eaten with a spoon, onsen eggs are a Naruko Onsen speciality, if you feel up to it you can also try cooking your own eggs, just pick up an egg cooking kit from one of the many local outlets.
The best way to get to Naruko Onsen is by train from Sendai station. Catch the JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Sendai Station and make a switch to the local Rikuuto East Line at Furukawa Station. The trip costs about 3,650 yen each way. If you plan to explore a number of baths while in the area be sure to pick up a special multi-entry yumeguri ticket for a flat fee of 1,300 yen.
Naruko Onsen Overview
NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR