Japan is home to a great number of scenic trails perfect for hiking or taking a relaxing walk through its pristine nature. While many trails are typically found in mountainous areas, you can also traverse beautiful coastal trails with great ocean views across Japan such as the Michinoku Coastal Trail.
The Michinoku Coastal Trail is a scenic long-distance trail in the Tohoku region that was completed in 2019. This lovely trail stretches about 1,000 kilometers along the Pacific coast from Hachinohe City in Aomori Prefecture to Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture and was completed as part of a project by the Ministry of Environment, aiming to accelerate the reconstruction of the region after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Taking this trail will give you a great opportunity to discover the fascinating natural beauty that the Tohoku region has to offer so without further ado, here is the ultimate guide to the Michinoku Coastal Trail!
Where is the Michinoku Coastal Trail?
The Michinoku Coastal Trail extensively covers four prefectures in the Tohoku region, including Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures. While a large part of the trail follows the beautiful Pacific coastline in the region, some parts also traverse through mountains, small villages, and local towns which offer diverse scenery and experiences for hikers.
This long-distance trail can be divided into multiple sections, and you can choose the best hiking route depending on your itinerary and where you would like to visit. Here are our recommended hiking routes that help you plan a memorable trip to Michinoku Coastal Trail!
1. Jodogahama Beach – Taro Station Route
Distance: Approximately 24.8km
Time: 10h (2 days)
This scenic trail spans about 25 kilometers and follows the beautiful rugged coastline which offers awe-inspiring scenery and great ocean views.
Start your journey from Jodogahama, an iconic and beautiful beach that is home to crystal-clear water with a cluster of pine-covered white rocks. Officially chosen among Japan’s top 100 beaches, this lovely beach attracts people from around Japan, particularly during the summer season.
Jodogahama Visitor Center is a short walk from the beach and boasts informative exhibits about nature, tourist attractions, and hiking trails around the area. Admission to the visitor center is free and free parking is also available. Continue your hike along the trail until you see Shiofuki-ana (blowhole), which is an impressive natural attraction. When the waves are high and the ocean is rough, water splashes as high as 30 meters out from the naturally-formed rock hole!
It generally takes at least 2 days to complete the route, and you can find a wide range of accommodation options along the way. Kyukamura Rikuchu Miyako is a great place to stay overnight which has both Japanese and western-style rooms. They also serve locally sourced fresh seafood for dinner, and a spacious bath is also available which helps you to unwind and relieve foot fatigue from a long hike.
The next day, leave the hotel in the early morning and it is about a 40-minute walk through a winding trail to Shinsai Memorial Park Nakanohama. This park is located on the former site of a campground and displays remains such as toilets and cooking areas which were seriously damaged and abandoned due to Tsunami in 2011.
The following trail from the park has a lot of ups and downs, and you will need to continue walking for about 4-5 hours to the next tourist spot known as Sanno-Iwa Rocks. Along the way, there are some scenic spots such as peaceful beaches where you can enjoy a short break or have lunch. After enjoying the stunning view of the iconic three rocks, it is about a 30-minute walk to reach Taro station to finish your 2-day hike!
How to get there
From Tokyo, take the Tohoku Shinkansen to JR Morioka station in Iwate Prefecture. Transfer to local line (JR Yamada Line) and get off at Miyako station. Bus service is available from there to Jodogahama Beach.
2. Ishinomaki City– Tajirojima Island – Ajishima Island Route
Distance: Approximately 16km
Time: 5h (2 days)
Difficulty: Easy to intermediate
Miyagi prefecture offers a unique trail that covers two remote islands off the coast of Ishinomaki city. This route starts from JR Ishinomaki station and you need to take a ferry to Tashiro island, which is widely known as “cat island” because of the great number of wild cats living there. There are literally more cats than local residents and you can easily encounter adorable cats freely roaming around the island.
Trails on the island are relatively flat and suitable for people of all ages and physical abilities. Top tourist attractions on the island include the Cat Shrine, which is dedicated to the god of cats. Manga-island is a popular accommodation on the island which offers cat-shaped colorful lodges and a spacious campground area.
After exploring the lovely island, take the ferry again from Nitoda Port to Ajishima island. Ajishima island is widely famous for Shirahama beach, which welcomes visitors with the beautiful sandy beach and a spectacular view of sunset at dusk. There are several small inns and Ryokan provided by locals on the peaceful island where you can stay overnight. It is also enjoyable to hike through the forest paths which are covered with tall trees and lush green plants. At the southernmost edge of the island, you will find Dowameki Cape, which gives spectacular ocean views with a symbolic red lighthouse and rocky cliffs along the beautiful coastline. Finish your journey at Futawatashi Port where you can catch a return ferry to Ayukawa port on the main island.
How to get there
From Tokyo, take the Tohoku Shinkansen to JR Sendai station in Miyagi prefecture. Transfer to limited express (JR Senseki Tohoku line) and get off at Ishinomaki station.
3. Shinchi Town – Mt. Karou Route
Distance: Approximately 20.4km
Time: 5.5h (Day trip)
This hiking trail stretches about 20.4 kilometers across the lovely countryside which is home to small villages, historic sites, and beautiful forest paths running through mountains.
Embark on your journey from Shinchi Town Hall and it is about a 15-minute walk to Ryushoji Temple. Continue walking for about 5 kilometers to Bonheur Yasuhiro 66, which is a cozy local bakery where you can get freshly-made bread perfect for lunch. It can take another 20-minute walk to reach Ukon Shimizu, a scenic spot perfect for viewing the beautiful cherry blossoms in spring or enjoying natural spring water which is clean enough to drink. From Ukon Shimizu it is about an hour’s walk to Mt. Karou.
Mt. Karou is an idyllic mountain town and from there you will need to hike up a steep mountain trail. Make sure to bring essential hiking gear such as poles and durable hiking shoes (an easier trail is alternatively available). From the top of the mountain, you can enjoy a spectacular view along with seasonal flowers such as hydrangeas. Descend the mountain for about 70 minutes and get a refreshing hot spring experience at Karo-no-yu. Before heading back to the city hall, stop by Shinchi-basan Market Aguriya, which offers locally-grown agricultural products for affordable prices! See here for details about the trail.
How to get there
From Tokyo, take the Tohoku Shinkansen to JR Sendai station in Miyagi prefecture. Transfer to JR Joban line and it is about an hour ride to Shinchi station.
Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Tohoku
Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency offering guided tours in Japan.
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we will organize the best tours for you! If you want to explore Japan to learn more histories and backstories of the area, our knowledgeable and friendly guide will happily take you to the best spots!
Also, we can provide you with any assistance for your upcoming trip in Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions/need some help!
Sendai & Matsushima 1–Day Highlight Private Walking Tour (7 Hours)
Sendai is the biggest city in the northern part of Japan, and is well known for its unique history, food and nature. There are so many things to see! We can customize the tour for you. Our team will suggest the best itinerary based on your interests. For instance, we can go to locations like Zuihoden (the Mausoleum of a Shogun), Osaki Hachimangu Shrine (a Shinto shrine and one of the National Treasures of Japan), Matsushima (One of the three most scenic spots of Japan), a Whiskey distillery, a Sake brewery, a Winery, the Shiogama Shrine, and so on. There are a lot of places to choose from for this tour, so the choice is up to you! Do not miss the best place and experience in Sendai, Miyagi!
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Visit 2-Day Tour from Tokyo
On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake shocked the world. It was a magnitude 9.0–9.1 and the biggest earthquake ever recorded in Japan.
The earthquake triggered a huge Tsunami that reached a towering height of 40.5 meters and made its way up to 10 km inland. Since the disaster, more than 15,000 people have been pronounced dead and over 2,500 people are still missing. Even worse, the control of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was lost.
On this tour, we will visit the coastal area of Fukushima for 2 days. We hope you can get a real perspective of the damage caused by the disaster and the effect it had on Fukushima as a whole. Joining this tour will have a big impact on your life and way of thinking about certain things.
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Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with traveling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. Also love to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.
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