Nestled in the mountainous backbone of Tohoku, Naruko is located entirely within the Kurikoma Quasi-National Park. Haiku poet Matsuo Basho passed through the area on the trip that became his masterwork Narrow Road to the Deep North.
Naruko is accessible by train on the JR East Rikū-Tōsen Line, some 40 minutes from Furukawa, an interchange station with the Tohoku Shinkansen line.
Direct shuttle buses to Sendai and its airport run several times a day for a cost of around ¥1500.
Two national highways, Route 47 and Route 108, pass through the area.
Naruko is small enough to cover on foot, though there are intermittent bus and train services. Geta, traditional Japanese wooden sandals, are popular among visitors and can even be rented from the train station. The local proverb geta mo naruko explains why: the literal meaning is "geta are also noisemakers", a reference both to the meaning of the town name (a naruko is a castanet-like clapper, originally designed to scare away birds) and the clip-clapping sound produced by walking on geta.
The volcanically active area is famous for the Naruko Hot Spring Villages (鳴子温泉郷), a cluster of 5 villages — Naruko, East Naruko, Takayamadaira, Kawatabi and Onikōbe — with abundant onsen hot springs. The reputed curative properties of the springs make them especially popular with people in ill health.
Many of the hotels in the area also offer entry to their baths during the daytime for around ¥500.
Most guests eat breakfast and dinner at their lodgings, but there are a number of simple eateries in town.
Other than camping, there are few budget options here.