Cradled in the mountainous backbone of Tohoku, in a tiny town called Naruko, is a hotel located entirely within the Kurikoma Quasi-National Park. The hotel where I stayed at on the first night was one I'll never forget. Out of all the onsen ryoukans in Tohoku this little rustic inn was rated # 3 for having the best onsen. Actually, if you research this hotel you'll find that on just about every website that this onsen water is rated 5 out of 5 for mineral content! And that the rest of the accommodations are rated at 2 and 3 for the quality of the room.
Every room comes with a Kitchenette but the rooms and facilities are very old and dirty. Not the kind of place you take some one who’s accustomed to world-class hotels. People who come to this kind of hotel are only interested in this mineral rich brownish onsen water, not the conveniences of a 21 Century luxury onsen hotel.
This was also the first time I had ever tried this kind of water which according to Japanese is a black water onsen黒湯. This ryoukan is famous for exactly just that; black hot mineral saturated water. I think the temperature was a little over 46 degrees Celsius. It took a lot of fortitude to adjust myself to that temperature. I want to return someday. I love the old rooms and the little kitchenette.
Haiku poet master Matsuo Basho passed through this area on his quest for greatness on his masterwork about Tohoku.