Tohoku itinerary advice

Jul 3rd, 2017, 12:31 PM
  #1  
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Tohoku itinerary advice

I'm looking for some help in planning the Tohoku part of my October trip. We'll be starting in Hokkaido, but will be taking the train to either Morioka or Miyako.

I'm debating whether to use Morioka as a base to take side trips to Lake Tazawako and the Jodogahama Beach area or if I should just focus on the east.

The alternate itinerary has us staying in Jodogahama Beach for two nights, and renting a car when we get to Miyako (or Kuji), exploring the coast, ending in Sendai. Or should we pick up the car in Hachinohe and drive south from there? From what I could tell, there isn't reliable public transportation from Miyako to Sendai, unless we backtrack to Morioka but I couldn’t tell whether there were passable roads along the coast.

In Sendai, we would take day trip(s) to Yamadera, Zao Spa and Matsushima (depending on what we decide above).

I really need suggestions on what would make the most sense, especially from a logistical standpoint and how many nights we should plan to spend in the area. We have up to seven nights.

Thank you in advance for your help and suggestions. We're more focused on scenic beauty than visiting temples or samurai towns, which I know are also popular in this area.
internetwiz is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2017, 12:59 PM
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I believe you posted a few months ago about your trip - this is what I said then:

"I went to the Tohoku area a couple of years ago and I used Sendai as a base for Yamadera and Matsushima and Morioka for Kakunodate, Lake Tazawa and Hiraizumi....I haven't been to Miyako but it is fairly close to Morioka. I used trains to get around...."

Sorry, I don't rent a car or know anything about that beach area....
Mara is online now  
Jul 4th, 2017, 04:04 AM
  #3  
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Mara, I have not disregarded your advice at all. In fact, I have hotel reservations in Morioka and Sendai.

My concern was when we get to Miyako and the Jodogahama Beach area whether we'd be able to navigate enough to see the coast without a car.
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Jul 4th, 2017, 07:40 AM
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I read that the JR Yamada Line south from Miyako was damaged by the tsunami/earthquake and not rebuilt.

There is/was a highway along the coast, National route 45. If that road is open then there may be bus service between Miyako and Kamaishi.

The Sanriku Railways line from Kamaishi to Sakari has been restored, but the JR line from Sakari may have been scrapped and replace a bus rapid transit line to Ofunato-shi. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%8Cfunato_Line

From Kamaishi you also have the option of a JR local to Shin-Hanamaki where you can get on the shinkansen.
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Jul 4th, 2017, 07:54 AM
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>>I couldn’t tell whether there were passable roads along the coast

Yeah, neither could I.

I just noticed that you mentioned Kuji. Have you looked into the Sanriku Railways Kita-Rias Line is running between Miyako and Kuji?

You could try finding a bus company that has routes for Kuji- Miyako- Kamaishi and if they are currently in service. That could give you info about the highway.

Good luck finding away. Looks like fun.
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Jul 4th, 2017, 08:19 AM
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I wasn't being critical...sorry - just wasn't sure if this was the same itinerary as your post from a few months back....

Glad you will visit Morioka - I found this place much nicer than I thought - try to see the Castle Site Park and adjacent museum if you have time....

Did you see this info on japan-guide about Jodogahama Beach access:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5029.html
Mara is online now  
Jul 4th, 2017, 10:07 AM
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This is a better page - shows bus service all along the coast it seems:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5044.html
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Jul 4th, 2017, 10:20 AM
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The JNTO guide for Morioka has some travel info for Jodogohama.
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/pdf/travelguide.html
someotherguy is offline  
Jul 9th, 2017, 09:41 AM
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A belated thank you for your responses. I've looked at the JNTO guide, but it was from 2015, so wasn't sure how accurate it was. I also looked at the Japan Guide site, but was having a hard time deciphering the routes, which is why I'd hoped to find someone who'd taken some of the transportation. I think I will try to find out more about the Kuji option, just because it looks like it could be more scenic.

Thanks again for your help.
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Jul 9th, 2017, 09:57 AM
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I generally find the best option in remote parts of Japan is to rent a car. That's what I did when I visited this area (picking up the car in Morioka). It's one of the easiest countries in the world to drive in: everyone obeys the rules and goes (often too) slowly. One oddity is they don't turn on their lights until it is really dark.

tocoo.com is the place to make reservations. I've used them dozens of times. It's typically $50 a day. One ways are expensive and there's no discount with longer hires. You need an international license ($15 or so from AAA).
someotherguy is offline  
Jul 9th, 2017, 11:28 AM
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Thanks, someotherguy. We do have a car reserved from Miyako to Sendai that I booked through tooco.com. The one way rental drop off fee is 7,560 yen, so I will go back and reprice it to/from Morioka as an option and see if it's worthwhile after I factor in the cost of the train (once I figure out if/what pass will work for us).
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Jul 9th, 2017, 02:06 PM
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I wonder if you have looked at the various JR East passes for the area - unlike the other passes for Japan, they are flex passes and are ideal for seeing the regions leisurely.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_southhokkaido.html
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_tohoku.html

I completely agree that renting a car is ideal for seeing a lot of places, which are isolated or poorly served by public transportation. Fortunately with the above passes, they dovetail quite nicely and don't cost you one of your travel days.

Another option is using JAL's Visit Tohoku airfare - you can fly to/from several Tohoku cities for ¥5400 yen per flight!
http://www.ar.jal.com/world/en/visittohoku/
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Jul 10th, 2017, 12:55 PM
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Thank you, Adastra2200. I have looked at the two JR Passes you mention. I have to figure out my itinerary to see if either (or both) make sense with my itinerary. I was not aware of the visit Tohoku airfare, however, which might be a good option as we'll be coming from Hokkaido.
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