Access and Orientation in Zao

How to access Zao Onsen from Tokyo

By train and bus via Yamagata

Take the JR Yamagata Shinkansen from Tokyo to Yamagata (2.5 hours, around 11,000 yen, one train per hour) and transfer to a bus to Zao Onsen (40 minutes, 1000 yen, one bus per hour). The train ride is covered by the Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass, but the bus ride is not.

By train and bus via Sendai (winter only)

Take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Sendai (100-130 minutes, around 10,000 yen, frequent departures) and transfer to a bus to Zao Onsen (100 minutes, 1500 yen, two buses per day, seat reservations required, operates in winter only). The train ride is covered by the Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass, but the bus ride is not.

By direct bus (winter only)

During the winter months, there is one daily overnight bus from Tokyo (Shinjuku Station) to Zao Onsen. The one way journey takes about eight hours and costs 4500 yen. Round trip tickets are available for 8000 yen. In the opposite direction, from Zao Onsen to Tokyo, the bus runs during the daytime. Seat reservations are mandatory.

How to access Zao Onsen from Sendai

By train and bus

Take the JR Senzan Line from Sendai to Yamagata (70-90 minutes, 1140 yen, one train per hour) and transfer to a bus to Zao Onsen (40 minutes, 1000 yen, one bus per hour). The train ride is covered by the Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass, but the bus ride is not.

By direct bus (winter only)

During the winter months, there are two direct buses per day between Sendai and Zao Onsen. The one way journey takes 100 minutes, costs 1500 yen and is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Seat reservations are mandatory.

Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current Yen exchange rate, click here.

Orientation

Zao Onsen is a small, walkable town at an altitude of around 880 meters above sea level along the slope of Mount Zao, a 40 minute ride outside central Yamagata City by frequently operating buses. Outside winter (late April to early November), cars can drive along the Zao Echo Line to the 1758 meter tall Kattadake peak from where Okama Crater can be viewed. One bus round trip per day is operated between Zao Onsen and Kattadake on weekends and holidays from late April to late October.

Last updated: June 20, 2012
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