AreaSendai

Tenshukaku Gardens & Ichitaro Hot Spring

天守閣自然公園・市太郎の湯・そば処 市太郎 | Tenshukaku Gardens, Ichitaro Hot Spring, Soba Ichitaro

Recharge in traditional gardens and a forest hot spring

Photo by Roger Smith

  • Akiu is a popular getaway tucked into the mountains of western Sendai. The area exudes a relaxed, unfussy warmth and hospitality emblematic of the Japanese countryside. It is home to a number of worthwhile sights and experiences. One of my favorite budget-friendly ways to spend a day in Akiu is with a visit to Tenshukaku Gardens and Ichitaro Hot Spring. A combination ticket for the two costs just 1,730 yen and includes a hearty lunch at Soba Ichitaro.

The wooden sign and entrance gate to Tenshukaku Gardens are hard to miss, as they lie directly alongside Route 131. The deftly cultivated Tenshukaku Gardens showcase the transient beauty of nature and the four seasons. The most remarkable feature is the natural boulder garden, the resting place of dozens of massive rocks that have tumbled down from Mount Osawa over the centuries due to volcanic and seismic activity. Come fall, the mountain is covered in richly-hued foliage, framed by these boulders green with moss.

 

The paved paths wind past a koi pond, hot spring footbaths, and groves of bamboo, maples, pines, and other flora. At a leisurely pace, one could easily spend an hour or more enjoying the gardens.

 

After strolling the gardens, warm your body to the core at Ichitaro Hot Springs, a day-use onsen facility in the woods next to the gardens. There are two outdoor baths and one large indoor bath (gender-separated). The outermost bath has a nice view of Mount Osawa, most impressive in fall when its ginko, cherry, and maple trees turn crimson and gold. Lucky bathers may even catch a glimpse of rare kamoshika (Japanese goat-antelopes) roaming wild on the mountainside.

 

The onsen water at Ichitaro Hot Spring is tawny with silt and weakly alkaline, leaving skin feeling clean and silky. The bathhouse itself is redolent of the cypress used in its construction. Body soap, shampoo and conditioner are provided in the washing area.

Soba Ichitaro is conveniently located next to the gardens and hot spring. Don’t be fooled by the place’s unassuming appearance—the quality of the food is surprisingly good! The lunch set included in the day-trip package is a choice of hot or cold soba or udon accompanied by tempura and a grilled rice ball. The broth accompanying the hot noodles is a classic katsuo- (skipjack tuna) and kombu- (kelp) based dashi. The tempura comes crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, just as it should. I’m also fond of the local apple juice sold here—it has a tart sweetness that brings back memories of my childhood in Oregon.

Details

ADDRESS

Genbeehara 5-1, Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture 982-0241

ACCESS BY PUBLIC TRANSIT

By city bus: 60 minutes from Sendai Station, followed by a 20-minute walk.

Board bus bound for Akiu Onsen (秋保温泉) from Sendai Station West Bus Pool Stop 8. Alight at Akiu Onsen Yumoto (秋保温泉湯元).

 

By Akiu・Kawasaki Seibu Liner bus (秋保・川崎 仙台西部ライナー): 35 minutes from Sendai Station.

Board bus bound for Kawasaki-machi (かわさきまち) at Sendai Station bus stop 63. Alight at Kinoya (木の家) bus stop. Timetable here.

ADMISSION

1,730 yen for the gardens, lunch, and bath package (weekdays only). Tickets for each can also be purchased separately.

CREDIT CARDS

Not accepted

LANGUAGES

Limited English

HOURS

Monday-Friday 10:30–17:00, weekends & national holidays 10:30–17:30 (Varies according to season. See facility websites for updates.)

RESERVATION

Not necessary

CLOSED DAYS

Varies according to season. See facility websites for updates.

PHONE

022-398-2111

Food & Drink Details

VEGETARIAN/VEGAN

Yes

HALAL

Please ask when you order

FOREIGN-LANGUAGE MENU

Yes

NON-SMOKING

Yes (a smoking area is located outside)

TABLE CHARGE

No

LUNCH HOURS

Monday–Friday 11:30–15:30, weekends & national holidays 11:00–16:30 (Varies according to season. See facility websites for updates.)

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