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JR Bus in Minamisanriku

The Sanriku Coast covers a large geographic area that extends from Aomori to Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. As such, there is no single access point for the entire region. Instead, most people will enter the coastal areas via one of three major cities, Sendai, Ichinoseki or Morioka, which lie along the Tohoku Shinkansen.

Please see the individual city pages for access details:


While most roads and train lines through the interior of the region were only mildly affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, damage to coastal roads and train tracks was considerable. In the meantime, however, all major roads have been reopened, and the shortage of gasoline was resolved within a couple of weeks of the tsunami. The damage to the coastal railways, however, was more extensive and will take more time to repair.

The status of damaged railway lines is as follows:

  • Japan Railways (JR East)

    All train lines running from the interior to the coast were reopened within a few weeks of the earthquake. However, many of the coastal lines remain disrupted. JR East operates rapid buses along the disrupted sections, namely between Maeyachi and Kesennuma and between Kesennuma and Ofunato's Sakari Station. The Japan Rail Pass, JR East Tohoku Area Pass and JR East South Hokkaido Pass are valid on these JR buses.

  • Sanriku Railways

    This private railway company operates two lines: the Northern and Southern Lines, which were both damaged by the tsunami. Service along the entire lines was resumed in April 2014. Sanriku Railways will take over operation of trains between Miyako and Kamaishi, a section that was badly damaged by the tsunami and is scheduled to be reconstructed and reopened by around 2018.

Even before March 2011, public transportation along the Sanriku Coast had been rather infrequent and slow. Therefore, a rental car is the recommended means of transportation. Rental car outlets can be found in Morioka, Ichinoseki and Sendai, as well as in many of the smaller cities in the region. Keep in mind that traveling along the Sanriku Coast is relatively slow as the cities are spread out and there are few expressways.

Several coastal railway lines remain out of service
Page last updated: July 15, 2016