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Itinerary in Tohoku 2017/7/18 19:39

I would like to ask for opinions or suggestions about our second trip to Japan. We will be there around 20 days. As in the first time we visited the typical places, in this trip we want to focus mainly on nature and rural life. The first part of the trip we will be visiting Hokkaido (Sapporo, Furano/Biei, Daisetsuzan, Shiretoko, Akan), and then we will move on to Tohoku. The itinerary we have planned is this:

12th-19th August: Hokkaido
20th August. Aomori, Hirosaki, Inakadate.
21st August. Take the Shirakami Resort Train and go to Akita and then to Nyuto Onsen. Does that train deserve? The other option is to go to Hachinohe/Towada, but it will change our itinerary.
22nd August. Nyuto Onsen-Kakunodate-Sendai
23rd August. Sendai-Ishinomaki-Matsushima. I think Miyako andJodogahama Beach are better options, but the combination is not very good, and we do not have much time. Is Ishinomaki interesting?
24th August. From Sendai to Yamagata-Yamadera-Zao Onsen. Is it possible?
25th August. From Zao Onsen to Dewa Sanzan sleep in Tsuruoka.
26th August. Finish Dewa Sanzan visit and go to Ginzan Onsen.
27th August. From Ginzan Onsen to Tokio. I think it will be difficult to go to Ouchijuku and Aizu-wakamatsu.
28th August. From Tokyo to Nakasendo route. (Magome-Tsumago). Overnight there.
29th August. Tokio. Come back to Tokyo and spend the whole day there. Our Flight departures at night 23:30 or so.

Is Tohoku a good choice for our second trip?
What do you think? Any suggestion? Do you recommend us to include/delete any other place?

Any advice will be welcomed, thus there is not a lot of information of this region.

Thank you in advance for your answers!
by Pancho (guest)  

Re: Itinerary in Tohoku 2017/7/19 11:10
I need to think more on this, but if you do Sendai to Yamadera to Yamagata you can get to Zao, but will need to bus from Yamagata to Zao since there are no trains. You can also do Zao to Yamagata to Tsuroka and from there get to the Dewa Sanzan, though I hear unless it is a week end getting to Yudono-san is quite hard. Assuming you are not renting a car, it's all doable by a combination of train or bus, but you will need to be willing to pay separately for buses. In '09 I did an early morning train from Sakata to Tsuroka (covered by pass), Bus from Tsuroka to Haguro-san, climbed the steps up Haguro-san and took pictures, took the bus back to Tsuroka, took a Highway Bus from Tsuroka to Yamagata, in Yamagata transferred to a highway bus to Zao. Again all the buses were out of pocket, but it was the fastest way to do the route I wanted.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary in Tohoku 2017/7/19 19:46
Thank you! So... In the case I rent a car in Tsuruoka... would it be possible to visit the three temples the same day?
In that case the itinerary would be like this:
24th: Sendai-Yamadera- Yamagata-Tsuruoka
25th: Rent a car and visiting the three temples. Is it easy get there by car? How many hours I need?
I would come back to Yamagata by train and from there to Zao Onsen by bus. Overnight there.
26th. Visit Zao and go to Ginzan Onsen.

How do you see it? Is Ginzan or Zao prescindible? Too much Onsens?
by kerkyra rate this post as useful

Itinerary in Tohoku 2017/7/19 20:35
I recommend you to buy Sendai area pass 1 Day cost=1300~ cover143 km of JR network+Bus+ subway+ non JR.Normal 1 way JR cost 2420~.By this pass,you can travel All lines of Sendai Airport Access ,All lines of Loople Sendai, Sendai City Buses and the Sendai Subway,Miyagi Kotsu Bus between Sendai Station and Akiu Otaki.,Abukuma Express Line between Tsukinoki and Abukuma station.
by Ron (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary in Tohoku 2017/7/19 22:43
Thinking about it again...

It might be better renting a car on the 25th August in Yamagata and going to Dewa Sanzan by car to visit the three temples. After that, we could also go by car to Ginzan Onsen and overnight there. 26th we can go by car to Zao Onsen, visit the mountain and village and come back to Yamagata to leave the car and, from there, travelling to Tokyo by train.

We wouldn't spend the night in Zao. We would save one day which we can spend in Tokyo or even in Kanazawa.

Is this itinerary more feasible and realistic?
by kerkyra rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary in Tohoku 2017/7/19 23:19
Personally, I think there is no such things as too much onsen, but I also think even with a rental car trying to hike Haguro-san, Gas-san, Yudono-san and get from there to Ginzan onsen might be pushing it. The Ginzan onsen site says it is mostly car free so I don't know how parking works. Distances in Yamagata can be quite far as it really is quite mountainous.

I was in the area in April '09 so Gas-san and Yudono-san were still closed for Winter. I'm in the US and would have personally felt uncomfortable driving on an expressway in Japan and driving through the mountains, but I can't speak to how you feel about such things. Car routes, even on expressways always take longer than Google recommends. I was not the driver, but earlier in that April trip, a dear friend rented a car for us in Morioka and we drove around some other parts of Tohoku chasing sakura (and getting caught in a blizzard.) At the time, there was a special discount on toll roads/expressways, as otherwise the cost of the trip would have been quite high. We returned our car in the same city as we rented it because again, quite high.

So I guess I am just not sure of how much your rental car would cost and if trying to drive from Tsuroka to Ginzan after doing the Dewa Sanzan is too ambitious. I had no problem doing Haguro-san and a little of Zao all in one day. I think I went to the big rotemboro the first day along with another onsen. My second day I know I did a private onsen at my ryokan and then took the bus back to Yamagata and caught a shinkansen back to Tokyo stopping at Yonezawa on the way.

Just so you know, if you want to take the Shirakami resort train from Aomori to Akita, if you don't take the early one at 8:49 out of Hirosaki, there is no way for you to make it to Nyuto Onsen that day. The later train at (2:30 in Hirosaki) won't get into Akita until nearly 7!

I admit, some of your trip seems rushed and like you will be spending many hours sitting in transport.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary in Tohoku 2017/7/20 04:35
thank you for thread
by hichamaziz rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary in Tohoku 2017/7/20 06:34
I think you are right! You have convinced me...

Other option would be:
24th: Sendai-Yamadera-Ginzan Onsen
25th: Ginzan Onsen (take the bus at 7:05)-Okama (getting there at 11:00, leaving from Yamagata at 9:30. At 13:00 way to Zao Onsen at 15:20 come back to Yamagata). In Yamagata we will take a late train to Tsuruoka. Hard day, but I think it is feasible, isn't it?
26th: Tsuruoka--Haguro-San. From here, as 26th is saturday, so, the bus between Yudono-San and Tsuruoka operates... And if we have enough energy and spirit we will try to visit the other two shrines, I know it is complicated, but it seems to be possible, right?
I have read we can try something like this:
6:02-6:32 BUS Tsuruoka station to Haguro-san base
6:32-8:05 Climb to Haguro-san
8:05-9:00 BUS Haguro-san to Gas-San 8th
9:00-4:15 Climb to Gas-san and descend to Yudono-san
4:15-5:32 BUS Yudono-san to Tsuruoka station
5:32-6:23 Wait at Tsuruoka station for train

After visiting or without visiting the other two, we will go to Tokyo. How do you see it?

Talking about Shirakami Resort Train, you are absolutely right, that is our idea, we are going to take the earliest train, thus we'll get Nyuto Onsen in time.

Thank you, again!!
by kerkyra rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary in Tohoku 2017/7/20 09:06
I think it would depend on what you want to do whether 2 hours and 20 minutes are enough time at Zao. The big rotemboro I seem to remember was a ways from the bus station and up a very steep hill. I got a free ride there from my ryokan. I think if you want to go there, the time might be tight. I think I went to Shinzaemon no Yu as well, I can't remember, but the other onsen I used was much easier to access from the bus station and would make more sense with you limited time frame.

I've not tried to do all 3 Dewa Sanzan in one day and I don't remember how long it took me to climb Haguro-san. I think whether you have enough time depends on your physical shape, your climbing experiences and how long you want to spend places or how many pictures you want to take. I remember I was very aware of exactly which bus I needed to catch from Haguro-san back to Tsuroka to catch the bus I wanted to Yamagata. The Haguro-san is not that hard IMHO, it's just a lot of steps. I think Gas-san and the hike down to Yudono-san are actual real hikes since I think getting to Yudono-san involves some ladders.

I think you have some good ideas I am just not sure you want to do so many early mornings in a row. Your schedule is very packed and missing connections in Tohoku is just not an option because many trains don't run that often. :/
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary in Tohoku 2017/7/21 05:47
Great advices rkold. We will think about them!
by kerkyra rate this post as useful

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