The warlord Date Masamune rose to power during Japan's Warring States period in the 16th century and went on to control a large area of Tohoku (northeastern Japan). Thanks to his rule, the castle town of Sendai developed into the largest city in the region. It is now a major industrial, economic and cultural hub for the region. Date Masamune was highly skilled in the military arts, but he was also known for his love of literature and his progressive thinking. He enjoyed composing waka (Japanese poetry), and loved sophisticated banquets. He also had a great interest in the world outside of Japan, and he sent special envoys as far as Europe. Even today, Date Masamune remains one of Japan's most popular historical figures. On hunting trips, the warlord would often visit a place called Akiu, where he would relax in the pools of natural hot-spring water. To this day, the area remains a popular resort where people come to ease their stress and fatigue-just an hour by car from the Sendai city center. Peter MacMillan is a poet and printmaker from Ireland. He is also a university professor who teaches comparative literature and linguistic art and expression. In this edition of Journeys in Japan, Peter arrives in Akiu on the cusp of spring. He discovers the history and natural beauty of the area. He hikes in the hills, meets a local artist, and immerses himself in the same hot springs that were such a favorite of Date Masamune.