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Sendai's Akiu spa most popular destination to revisit among northeast Japan locals

The verdant Akiu hot spring resort district is seen from the Ryokusuitei hotel in Sendai's Taihaku Ward in this May 23, 2008 file photo. (Mainichi/Jun Aoki)

YAMAGATA -- The Akiu hot spring resort district in Miyagi Prefecture was the most satisfying tourist spot in northeast Japan's Tohoku region, followed by the Tsuruoka, Yunohama and Atsumi areas in Yamagata Prefecture, and the scenic Matsushima islands in Miyagi, a survey of regional residents showed.

    Japanese travel magazine Jalan conducted the internet survey of Tohoku residents in their 20s through their 60s in February this year. They were asked where among 81 tourist spots in the region's six prefectures they had visited for overnight stays in 2021 and "want to visit again." The magazine received valid answers from 1,031 people.

    Matsushima Bay is seen at twilight in Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, in this July 3, 2022 file photo. (Mainichi/Toshiki Miyama)

    All the top three spots were taken by iconic Tohoku travel destinations. Located in a rural area of the city of Sendai, the Akiu district is famous for hot springs, and 66.1% of respondents said they wanted to visit there again. Akiu, as well as Matsushima -- called one of the three most scenic spots in Japan -- are accessible from central Sendai, and they seem to have been highly prized as nearby destinations. New notable sites such as Akiusha, a tourist spot based in an old folk house that serves dishes using local ingredients, help maintain the district's popularity.

    The strongly rooted popularity of the Tsuruoka, Yunohama and Atsumi areas can be attributed to the hot springs, landscapes such as the "three sacred mountains of Dewa" and the rich food culture. The city of Tsuruoka was recognized by UNESCO as Japan's first creative city of gastronomy in 2014.

    When the survey respondents were asked which areas they did not visit in 2021 but would like do so in the future, the most popular choice was Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada in Aomori Prefecture, followed by the Akiu district, the Ginzan district in Yamagata Prefecture, the Matsushima islands, then Sendai.

    (Japanese original by Nobuyuki Yokota, Yamagata Bureau)

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