Prerequisite : none
The journey to the northern part of Honshu from, let's say, Tokyo, is typically made by shinkansen, so JR Pass and JR East Pass can be used; if you need to buy a shinkansen ticket, check this page (in French)
this page for especially interesting discounts for the Northern Tohoku region.
This tour starts from Morioka
(Iwate-ken) and finishes at Tazawako
(Akita-ken); both are reachable by shinkansen.
Duration : from 2/3 days - 1/2 night(s)
(this tour is easily tunable)
Transportation : by bus
Cost : from around 16'000 yens
including bus, 1 night with dinner and breakfast, entrance to onsen; lunches not included.
Theme : This tour can be made in just 2 days from Tokyo! A great overview of some of the nicest spots in Northern Tohoku, including the Hachimantai National Park, marsh fields, lakes, great onsen and attractive volcanic sights. If you have more time, you can stay one night longer in a volcanic area, and even a third night in the old samurai town of Kakunodate.
Season : from May to October
- access impossible from late Autumn to early Spring
Shinkansen (if required)
: Tokyo - Morioka (Hayate and Komachi shinkansen take between 2h20 and 2h45 to cover the 535 km)
: Morioka - Hachimantai Chojo (八幡平頂上) (1320 yen, about 2 hours, just a couple of buses per day)
- there are very few buses running from Morioka to Hachimantai Chojo, so you absolutely need to plan your trip carefully in advance; check this timetable for the Morioka - Hachimantai journey
, or call 019-652-5151; also, Hachimantai Chojo stop is at the pass, close to the summit of the mountain, while Hachimantai stop is in a valley.
There is a beautiful hike from the bus stop, which passes through the top of the mountain, and circles around several marches and mountain lakes.
From the bus stop, it takes about 15 minutes by foot to reach Toshichi Onsen and its only ryokan. You might take this opportunity to soak in the free, wild bath at the spring of the onsen, just a couple of hundred meters above the ryokan. In the ryokan, enjoy some fantastic outdoor baths... but bring some sweets with you, food amount is not very generous.
: Saiunso (彩雲荘) at Toshichi Onsen (藤七温泉)
address - 岩手県八幡平市松尾寄木北の又
phone - www.toshichi.com
internet - 090-1495-0950
check also this Mainichi report
and this pdf file
price - 11'700 to 12'750 yen without bath, 13'800 to 14'850 yen with bath
: Walk back to the pass, and take a bus to Goshogake Onsen (26 minutes, 6 buses per day) (check the timetable
Alternative : you can walk down to Goshogake Onsen from the top of Hachimantai, but this is quite a difficult trek partially made in the bed of a dried river; count on 3-4 hours to reach Goshogake Onsen, a little longer if you stop at Fuke no Yu for a (great) onsen.
Fuke no Yu (ふけの湯)
address - 秋田県鹿角市八幡平字熊沢国有林内
phone - 0186-31-2131
internet - www.ink.or.jp/~fukenoyu
Goshogake Onsen Nature Trail
A nice, 2-km long walk starting from the ryokan at Goshogake Onsen and allowing to see closely volcanic activity, including volcanic mud, hells, volcanic lakes. Access to the Nature Trail is free, and the walk is not very demanding.
Alternative : spend one day is Goshogake Onsen; this is required if you decide to walk down to Goshogake Onsen from the top of Hachimantai, but could also be an option to spend more time hiking around Goshogake Onsen.
Goshogake Onsen (後生掛温泉)
internet - www.goshougake.co.jp
: Goshogake Onsen - Tamagawa Onsen (玉川温泉) (30 minutes, 3 buses per day only - there is really limited buses here, plan your trip carefully and ask your ryokan for the exact timetable) (check the timetable
Tamagawa Onsen 玉川温泉)
A very popular onsen in Japan: it is both the most acidic, and the most important discharge with a flow of 8000-12000 L/min! There is also a Nature Trail - yes, another one - which brings visitors at the spring itself, from where a mountain stream of onsen water is flowing! A very impressive sight, well-worth the stop. Since the area is also radioactive, you will see many Japanese laying down on mats to get an irradiation "cure".
: Tamagawa Onsen - Tazawako station (田沢湖駅) (about 90 minutes, 9 buses per day) (check the timetable
Shinkansen (if required)
: Tazawako - Morioka - Tokyo; remember that there is only 1 shinkansen per hour, and that all seats are reserved.