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Onsen and More: Our Miyagi Experience



Think Miyagi, think Zao, locals say. 


Straddling the borders of Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures, Mt. Zao is famous for a unique phenomenon that occurs every winter: The combination of snow, strong winds, and low temperatures transforms entire forests of fir trees into otherworldly shapes known as snow monsters! 


But there’s much more to Miyagi than this. Just an hour’s drive from Sendai, you’ll find the amazing Zao Fox Village, Japan’s largest fox-themed zoo. More than 100 foxes live free-range in a garden surrounded by nature, and you can watch them without a fence separating you. 


Miyagi is more than just snow monsters.


As a land rich in hot springs, Miyagi is home to plenty of onsen (hot spring) and ryokan (traditional Japanese inn). During our visit, we chose to stay at Sansatei Ryokan. Situated in the town of Togatta Onsen and just half an hour’s drive from Zao Fox Village, Sansatei offers gorgeous views of the surrounding greenery, with an outstanding public bath where we had one of the most soothing soaks ever! We love that they also provide assistive chairs for the elderly and onsen-friendly toys to keep children busy; an infant cot is also available in the dressing room.
As for the township, Togatta Onsen may be small and quiet but it’s still got plenty of charming restaurants, giving visitors ample dining options. 


Naruko Gorge is famous for its panoramic views.


Other nearby places of interest include:

- Kami no Yu. Located in the center of town, it’s a pit stop for tourists with its foot bath facility and tourist information center. 
- Kattamine Shrine. A shrine on the summit of Katta dedicated to the water gods, Amano Mikumarino Kami and Kunino Mikumarino Kami
- Osaki Hachimangu. A spacious, tranquil Shinto shrine nestled among lush greens
- Naruko Gorge. Two hours’ drive from Sansatei, it is famous for picturesque autumn panoramas. It’s busiest between summer and fall.



The Kattamine Shrine is dedicated to the water gods, Amano Mikumarino Kami and Kunino Mikumarino Kami.




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