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Introducing Akiu Onsen

Considered one of the three most famous hot springs in Japan, Akiu Onsen was the Date clan’s favourite, with a saltwater spring that’s said to be a curative for back pain and arthritis. It’s also a good base for side trips into the mountains to see Akiu Ōtaki , a 6m-wide, 55m-high waterfall, which is itself designated as one of Japan’s three most famous waterfalls (Japanese do love those famous sets of three!). Akiu Onsen is also handy for access to the gorge, Futakuchi-kyō , with its banji-iwa (rock columns). There are hiking trails along the river valley and a trail from Futakuchi Onsen to the summit of Daitō-dake (1366m) that takes about three hours.

Hiking maps are available at Akiu Onsen’s tourist information office (398-2323; 9.30am-6pm). The staff can also advise on the hotels, minshuku and camping grounds that are scattered throughout the area, though the onsen itself is an easy day trip out of Sendai.