Akiu is a famous onsen (hot spring) town in the Tohoku Region, and it has a long history. Akiu Onsen was discovered in the Tumulus period of Japan. It is located only 25 km away from the downtown Sendai, which is the capital city of the Tohoku Region. During the samurai period, Date Masamune, who was a shogun of the Miyagi Prefecture, visited Akiu Onsen often for healing and relaxing purposes. In contrast with Akiu’s lively onsen atmosphere, the town is surrounded by gorgeous nature. If you happen to be in Sendai and looking for a day-trip option, including both a relaxing onsen experience and nature's serenity, Akiu is a perfect spot to discover.
Akiu Onsen spring contains salt, which is known for keeping the body heat after bathing for a long time. The spring has no colour and no smell, so it’s perfect for onsen beginners. There are many top-end Japanese inn style hotels in Akiu. Each hotel has its own onsen baths with indoor and outdoor options, high-quality restaurants and some with Japanese gardens. It is nice to stay overnight in these hotels, but staying in downtown and taking a day-trip is a cheaper option. These hotels offer a day pass with kaiseki (traditional multi-course cuisine) lunch for around 5000 yen. You can dip, relax and enjoy the tasty kaiseki lunch, and then go back to dip and relax again!
Rairai-kyo Gorge is a picturesque nature's spot, especially for its autumn colourful leaves. This scenic place will take you by surprise as you will not expect to see that beauty just 30 mins drive away from Sendai, a metropolis with one million inhabitants. The promenade to Rairai-kyo Gorge starts on the right side after the entrance of the Akiu town, over the Nozokibashi Bridge. Looking down the gorge from the bridge, you might also find a locally well-known Loveheart rock.
Akiu Otaki is 55-meter high and one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan. The walk to this waterfall starts at the historical temple site with traditional street food stalls, which make the walk more atmospheric. You can walk down to the waterfall basin. A view from the bottom is as dramatic as from the top, so it is worth hiking down the short but steep scenic path.
If you are more experienced nature walker, then I recommend you to explore the 8-kilometer Futakuchi-Keikoku trail which is located near Akiu Otaki. Fatakuchi-Keikoku is a part of the Miyagi Prefectural Natural Park. The highlight of this scenic spot is Banji-iwa, a large rock wall with a height between 80-150 m, standing up from the bottom of the valley and continuing for 3 km. The sight of the rock wall dyed by the sunset is truly gorgeous.
There are several interesting eateries around the Akiu town. Akiu-sha is a popular restaurant situated in a unique 160-year-old reconstructed traditional Japanese house. It is located in the middle of the Akiu town. Akiu-sha is open until 17.00. The last order for lunch is 15.00 and for coffee is 16.00. All dishes from the menu are prepared with local fresh ingredients. There is an enhanced café menu which includes hoji-cha tea pudding. Akiu-sha also offers cycling tour, during which a local guide can take you to hidden gems of Akiu.
Akiu offers an experience of traditional Japan with gorgeous natural surroundings in a very convenient location. When in Sendai and trying to organize a one-day trip, why not visiting Akiu to discover its lively onsen town experience, while relaxing in its nature's serenity and enjoying yummy food?
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