Narukobabibubebo | 22 10 2006
Naruko is most famous for it’s onsens (hot spring baths) but almost as famous for it’s fall leaves or koyo in Japanese. Naruko is one of the most famous places to see the fall leaves in the Tohoku area is the most famous in Miyagi Prefecture. I went there October 21st, 2006 and it was just a little bit too early. If you live in the Tohoku or Miyagi area, by next weekend (28th) it should be really nice! By local train, Naruko is about 2 hours from Sendai and 40 minutes to Naruko from Furukawa (depending on where you are coming from, you should change at Furukawa or Kogata to get to Naruko). The station you want to get off at is called Naruko Onsen.
From the station you can walk to some places of interest but also there are a few buses and taxis if you don’t want to walk the whole time. One of the more popular places to go is Naruko Gorge. It is about a 30 minute walk from Naruko Onsen Station and it takes about 1 hour to walk through the gorge. At the end their is a really famous bridge, that you can see in the photos here, and a really nice view of the gorge. I recommend taking the bus to the end of the gorge where the bridge is and then walking back towards the station through Naruko Gorge. The gorge, while being slightly commercialized, is actually quite a nice and easy walk with a few waterfalls, bridges and interesting rocks and cliffs. As you can imagine, being as it is a gorge, sometime the lighting can be somewhat tricky with places completely in shadow and completely in direct sunlight.
Other places of interest include, Naruko Tropical Botanical Gardens, Katanuma Lake (although it is a lot smaller than I thought it would be), Naruko Damn and a nature trail at Jigokudani (which passes by a famous geyser).
After the onsens and fall leaves, Naruko is also famous for kokeshi dolls, which are small wooden dolls. You walk up and down the main street you can see many shops that sell kokeshi dolls and sometimes you can actually watch them making the famous kokeshi dolls. Also you can find very nice lacquerware (shikki in Japanese) in Naruko Onsen. If you are really into Kokeshi, there is a National Kokeshi Museum you can check out.
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