Region
Tohoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Aomori
Population
1,475,635

Michinoku Coastal Trail

Hike alongside the Pacific Ocean and witness the beauty and scars of Tohoku.

In 2011, an earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated the eastern coast of northern Japan’s Tohoku region. In an effort to revitalize and assist the area, the Japanese Ministry of Environment in 2013 started plans to construct the Michinoku Coastal Trail to help assist the areas affected and display the true beauty of the region.

The miracle pine tree in Iwate remains a symbol of hope for those affected by the 2011 tsunami.

The Miracle Pine Tree — a symbol of hope after the 2011 disaster.

The Michinoku Coastal Trail (Michinoku being an old nickname for Tohoku) is a series of trails hugging the Pacific coast of Japan’s Tohoku region. Joining the likes of other long trails in the world, such as the Greater Patagonian Trail in South America, this one follows the ocean for around an impressive 700 kilometers.

The trail starts in the northern city of Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture and ends in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, just an hour south of Sendai. It offers a way to gain insight into the people and scars of this region, as well as views of untouched natural beauty that range from grassy knolls to rocky coasts to waterfalls and a lot more.

Photo by: /tohoku.env.go.jp The trail goes up the Pacific coast from Fukushima up to Aomori. The dotted lines are the areas of the trail that officially open in March 2019.

Countless towns and cities along the trail were wiped out from the tsunami and many are still recovering years after the initial death and destruction. One section of the Michinoku Coast Trail goes through Kamaichi City in southern Iwate Prefecture. There, you can witness the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, in remembrance of those who died in the disaster. The stadium is a beautiful memorial of the struggles many people endured, but also a reminder for the locals to persevere and rebuild.

Segments of the trail go through areas filled with powerful stories like in Kamaichi but also showcases magnificent nature, delicious seafood and warm-hearted people. Hiking the entire 700-kilometer trail takes roughly one month. However, most people choose to hike just a portion of the trail.

Highlights of Michinoku Coastal Trail

Here are just a few of the highlights you’ll discover, even if you decide to just make it a day trip while staying in a nearby city.

Aomori Prefecture starts the trail off with famous spots like Otsuka Beach and the grassy Tanesashi Coast. These areas are a preview for the rest of the gorgeous hike to come – rocky coasts with pine trees and the roar of the Pacific Ocean.

Photo by: Nick Pinder The trail as it goes along the coast of Iwate Prefecture.

Iwate Prefecture has the longest section of the trail home to endless jagged, rocky cliffs hanging over the sea like Samurai Iishi Rock near Kuji city, also countless small fishing villages, and hidden Shinto shrines like the one on Horaijima Island. Be sure to check out the beauty of Jodogahama Beach (the featured photo), as well as the “Miracle Pine Tree” which withstood destruction during the tsunami and is a symbol of hope.

Miyagi Prefecture’s section of the trail takes you past Oshima Island which is well-known for beautiful beaches and plenty of camping sights. Miyagi’s section also hosts Matsushima Bay, which is one of Japan’s three most celebrated views (along with the likes of Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture), as well as the northeastern region’s capital city of Sendai.

Matsushima, Japan coastal landscape from Mt. Otakamori. Miyagi Prefecture

Matsushima Bay in Miyagi Prefecture.

Fukushima Prefecture’s section hosts the end of the trail in Soma, a town just 50 kilometers north of the damaged nuclear plant. Despite the bad press, Soma and northern Fukushima are safe areas full of the same beauty and wonder the rest of the trail has to offer.

Things to know: Maps

The Michinoku Coastal Trail website has detailed maps and info on each area:

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Things To Know

Important: Trail opening

All parts of the trail fully open in March 2019. You can see on the route that dotted lines represent these parts, while the solid lines are areas of the trail open since 2017ish.

How To Get There

Address

Same-56−2 Samemachi, Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture 031-0841, Japan

By train

Starting in Hachinohe, Aomori: You can take the Hayabusa bullet train on the JR Tohoku line from Ueno station to Hachinohe station in three hours. From Hachinohe station, take the JR Hachinohe line to Same station and then walk about 5 minutes to Kabushima Shrine (marked on the map!), where the trail starts. Totaling to about ¥16,000, without a JR Rail Pass.

Staring in Soma, Fukushima: Take the Hayabusa Train on the JR Tohoku line from Ueno/Tokyo station to Sendai station. Transfer on the Joban line to Soma Station. Baryo Park, the closest section of the trail is a 20-minute walk away from the station. Totaling about ¥12,000, without a JR Rail Pass.

By bus

Starting in Hachinohe, Aomori: Buses from Tokyo stop at the downtown of Hachinohe. They take normally 10-11 hours ranging from ¥5,000 to ¥8,000. City buses will take you to straight to Kabushima Shrine.

Staring in Soma, Fukushima: Buses from Tokyo stop at the downtown of Soma. They take normally 5-6 hours costing from ¥3,000 to ¥5,000.

Where To Stay

Hachinohe Seagull View Hotel
  • Samemachi Kofunadotai 9-19 Hachinohe-Shi, Aomori 031-0841
  • 7.8/10
  • 1.2 km
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APA Hotel Honhachinohe
  • Kashiwazaki 1-8-22 Hachinohe-Shi, Aomori 031-0081
  • 7.9/10
  • 6.0 km
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Hotel Select Inn Hachinohe Chuo
  • Juichinichi-machi 52 Hachinohe-Shi, Aomori 031-0085
  • 6.7/10
  • 6.2 km
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Super Hotel Hachinohe Tennen Onsen
  • Juichinichimachi 58-7 Hachinohe-Shi, Aomori 031-0085
  • 7.9/10
  • 6.2 km
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