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5 Best Things to Do in Akiu Onsen: Fun Spa Day Trip Close to Sendai

5 Best Things to Do in Akiu Onsen: Fun Spa Day Trip Close to Sendai

Date published: 28 September 2020
Last updated: 11 December 2020

Akiu Onsen is one of the main sightseeing spots in Sendai City, in Miyagi Prefecture. As a hot springs area surrounded by nature, Akiu Onsen has several scenic spots and restaurants, and souvenir shops, as befitting of a sightseeing destination!

The location is good, being 30 minutes away from the heart of Sendai City by car, and one draw is the hot springs you can visit without having to stay over.

In this article, we’ll be introducing to you our recommended plan to make the most of your day trip to Akiu Onsen.

Table of Contents
  1. What kind of place is Akiu Onsen?
  2. How do you get to Akiu Onsen from Sendai Station?
  3. 1. Rairaikyō Gorge: A reputed romance spot?!
  4. 2. Hotel Zuiho: Enjoy an onsen surrounded by Japanese gardens
  5. 3. Akiusha: Lunch in a restaurant refurbished from an old Japanese-style house serving many local vegetables
  6. 4. Tenshukaku Nature Park: Feel the beauty of Japan in this Japanese Garden
  7. 5. Akiu Great Falls: Stroll through one of the most famous places in Akiu Onsen

What kind of place is Akiu Onsen?

What kind of place is Akiu Onsen?
Photo provided by Sendai Tourism, Convention, and International Association

Akiu Onsen is an onsen area, or hot springs area, in Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture. The place has proudly been in operation since 1500, and is home to famous hot springs used by the first feudal lord of Sendai, Date Masamune.

Onsen varieties available include sodium springs, alkaline springs, and sulfur springs, amongst others. As it is easily accessible from JR Sendai Station by car, it is often called the “inner parlor of Sendai.”

With sightseeing spots and tourist facilities, as well as restaurants dotted around, it’s a popular tourist attraction. Many people make day trips over to enjoy the hot springs as well, and you can casually enjoy the springs.

How do you get to Akiu Onsen from Sendai Station?

How do you get to Akiu Onsen from Sendai Station?

To get to Akiu Onsen, you can either go by car, or take one of two route buses. By car, it takes 30 minutes to reach the heart of Akiu Onsen, Akiu-Sato Center, from JR Sendai Station.

By bus, there are two route buses from JR Sendai Station to Akiu Onsen, the Akiu line by Miyagi Transportation, and the Seibu Liner by Takeya Kotsu. The Akiu line by Miyagi Transportation departs from bus pool 8 at the west exit of JR Sendai Station, and takes 50 minutes to reach Akiu Onsen. The Seibu Liner by Takeya Kotsu departs from berth 63 along Aoba-dōri, in front of JR Sendai Station, and takes 40 minutes.

If you get lost finding the bus berths, you can ask for help at the Sendai Tourism Information Center on the second floor of the View Plaza in Sendai Station. They can direct you to the bus berths. As English is available as well, do feel free to use it with peace of mind.

1. Rairaikyō Gorge: A reputed romance spot?!

1. Rairaikyō Gorge: A reputed romance spot?!

To start off our trip to Akiu Onsen, we paid a visit to Rairaikyō Gorge, which is filled with strange rocks. It’s 30 minutes from JR Sendai Station by car. By bus, it takes 50 minutes by the Akiu Line by Miyagi Transportation, and is a three-minute walk from Akiu-Sato Center.

The gorge follows the Natori River, a 1-kilometer long river that flows through Akiu Onsen town. You can see many dynamic rock formations and the clear stream waters up close as you follow the walking path.

The thing you’ll want to check out at Rairaikyō Gorge is the heart-shaped depression in the rocks, the Nozokibashi Heart. Take a peek under the Nozokibashi Bridge, which crosses the Natori River. You can see the heart-shaped depression in the rocks! It’s so clearly formed you wouldn’t think that it was made naturally, and you’ll find yourself snapping pictures before you know it

The Nozokibashi Heart was confirmed by the fashion designer Katsura Yumi, who was leading the “Lover’s Sanctuary” project. Looking at the heart while making a wish for brilliant love, it’s a place where couples and spouses can reaffirm their love for each other.

  • Rairaikyo Gorge
    磊々峡
    • Address Biwahara, Akiu-machi Yumoto, Taihaku-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi-ken, 982-0241
    • Phone number: 022-398-2323 (Akiu Tourist Information Center)
      Hours: Free to visit at all times

2. Hotel Zuiho: Enjoy an onsen surrounded by Japanese gardens

2. Hotel Zuiho: Enjoy an onsen surrounded by Japanese gardens

15 minutes away from Rairaikyō Gorge by foot is Hotel Zuiho, where you can enjoy your day trip relaxing in the hot springs.

There's a course that comes with a meal and massage, and another that allows access into the hot springs and pool, amongst others, and the wide variety of plans available for you to spend your time fruitfully during a day trip to Hotel Zuiho is one of its merits.

If you just want to use the hot springs, or both the hot springs and pool, you don't need to make a reservation beforehand.

*The “Bath and Lunch-Gozen Course” and the “Refresh Course” are currently unavailable due to Covid-19.
*The “Bath and Pool Course” are only available on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.
*The shuttle bus for day trip patrons is currently unavailable due to Covid-19.

Photo provided by Hotel Zuiho

If you want to take a leisurely soak in the hot springs, select the simple "Bath Course" for 1,320 yen (with tax). The main bathing area is rotated between males and females.

The hot springs' sodium waters prevent chills after bathing. From the "Shiotaki-no-Yu", where you can take a dip in the hot springs while gazing over a waterfall, to the 130-centimeter deep "Tachi-yu", or standing bath, to open-air baths, there are a total of six bath types.

As it is surrounded by beautifully manicured Japanese gardens, you can pass your time comfortably.

  • Sendai Akiu Onsen Hotel Zuiho
    仙台・秋保温泉 ホテル瑞鳳
    • Address Noke 26-1, Akiu-machi Yumoto, Taihaku-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi-ken, 982-0241
    • Phone Number 022-397-1111
    • Business hours: Day trip onsen from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (last entry at 2:00 p.m.)
      Fees: Bath Course at 1,320円 (with tax) *70 yen hot spring tax to be paid separately
      Opens all year round

3. Akiusha: Lunch in a restaurant refurbished from an old Japanese-style house serving many local vegetables

3. Akiusha: Lunch in a restaurant refurbished from an old Japanese-style house serving many local vegetables

Lunch is a five-minute walk away from Hotel Zuiho, at Akiusha. A 160-year-old traditional house that was converted into a restaurant, the place serves lunch made with local vegetables, as well as desserts. From the ceiling beams to the pillars, the traditional Japanese-style fixtures in the restaurant are of particular note.

For lunch, it's recommended to get the "Akiusha Lunch", a plate menu that has a main dish of locally produced vegetables, at 1,280 yen (without tax). As the vegetables used are acquired the day itself and vary with the seasons, you can look forward to tasting whatever surprises will be served. From roasting to steaming, the preparation method differs based on the vegetables used.

As you stuff yourself heartily with the umami-filled carrots and the sweet potatoes, you'll find yourself wondering with surprise, "were vegetables this delicious?", and that's when you'll understand the unique draw of the ingredients used by Akiusha.

Besides this, there is the "Hata-no-Akiusha Bowl" at 1,150 yen (without tax), an eye-catching taco rice bowl which looks like a potted plant, and the "Akiu Saiseki Shokora", a crunch with a white chocolate base which you eat with a mallet (850 yen, without tax), amongst an assortment of original menu items. You can share them with your family and friends too.

*To prevent the spread of Covid-19, ethanol disinfectant is provided at the shop entrance to clean your hands, so please comply with the measures.
*To prevent the spread of Covid-19, service staff will not be able to serve food.

  • Akiusha
    アキウ舎
    • Address Noke 9-4, Akiu-machi Yumoto, Taihaku-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi-ken, 982-0241
    • Phone Number 022-724-7767
    • Business hours: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (last order for food items at 2:30 p.m., last order for café items at 4:00 p.m.)
      Closed on Tuesdays

4. Tenshukaku Nature Park: Feel the beauty of Japan in this Japanese Garden

After you're fed and watered, head to Tenshukaku Natural Park by car. Though you can take a bus from Hotel Zuiho over as well, there is a limited number of buses available, so it's recommended to go by car or taxi instead.

Inside Tenshukaku Natural Park, there is a Japanese garden centered around stone structures and a pond, and you can enjoy yourself looking at the koi fish swimming in the pond and walking around the stone garden. Within the garden, you can soothe yourself with the gentle sounds of water flowing and birds singing, and forget about the time passing by.

There are cherry blossoms in spring, hydrangeas in early summer, Momiji in autumn, and snow in winter. There are things to see here regardless of the season.

On top of that, the garden has its own day trip onsen that comes with an open-air bath that can be reserved, as well as a free foot spa with waters that comes from its private springs, so be sure to make use of them.

*To prevent the spread of Covid-19, please wear a mask when entering the garden

  • Tenshukaku Nature Park
    天守閣自然公園
    • Address 10, Hyoehara, Akiu-machi Yumoto, Taihaku-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi-ken, 982-0241
    • Phone Number 022-398-2111
    • Business hours: 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 (varies by facility)
      Fees: 400 yen (may vary by season_
      Opens year round, though some facilities have their own holidays

5. Akiu Great Falls: Stroll through one of the most famous places in Akiu Onsen

5. Akiu Great Falls: Stroll through one of the most famous places in Akiu Onsen

Finally, we'll head towards Akiu Great Falls, one of the scenic sights in Akiu Onsen that is considered the grandest among tourist spots. Akiu Great Falls is one of the top one hundred waterfalls in Japan, with a fall of 55 meters and a width of six meters.

It's 20 minutes away from Tenshukaku Natural Park by car. As it's challenging to reach Akiu Great Falls by public transport, for those who are visiting Akiu Onsen by bus, it's recommended to come here by taxi.

One draw of Akiu Great Falls is the exploration route around the falls. There are two routes available, one which leads from the rest house with a carpark to the viewing stage, and another which starts from the Takitsubo carpark near the Fudōtakibashi bridge to the waterfall basin. The route which goes through the viewing stage is a 30-minute walk.

It takes 10 minutes to reach the route from Takitsubo carpark. Either course has steep ascents and requires you to walk on rocks, so it's best to wear clothes and shoes suitable for walking.

You can take a breath of relief as you head down to the waterfall basin. The air feels cooler, and finally, right before your eyes, is the waterfall! The roar of the waterfalls resounds as it falls, and it's an awe-inspiring sight. You'll find yourself losing track of time as you admire it. Depending on weather conditions, you can even see a rainbow when facing the falls. Feel the dynamism of nature.

  • Akiu Otaki Falls
    秋保大滝
    • Address Ōtaki, Baba, Akiu-machi, Taihaku-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi-ken, 982-0244
    • Phone number: 022-398-2323 (Akiu Tourist Information Center)
      Operating hours: Free to visit at all times

So how about it? With great access, Akiu Onsen, with its numerous sights to see, is a great place to go on your first trip to Miyagi. When planning your next trip to Sendai, do check it out.

Text by: Shoepress
Information is accurate as of September 2020

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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