Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Tohoku autumn itinerary 2018/5/31 23:28
Hello all!

I have drafted a sample itinerary for autumn trip this year:
27 Oct - Fly to Tokyo
28 Oct - Tokyo to Aizu Wakamatsu*
29 Oct - Aizu Wakamatsu - explore Goshikinuma
30 Oct - Aizu Wakamatsu - Tadami line
31 Oct - Aizu Wakamatsu - Ouchi juku, To no Hetsuri
1 Nov - Aizu Wakamatsu to Towadako*
2 Nov - Towadako
3 Nov - Towadako to Kakunodate*
4 Kakunodate - Samurai residences, stroll along the town
5 Kakunodate - explore Nairiku line
6 Kakunodate - Dakigaeri gorge
7 Kakunodate to Sendai* (start early and visit Naruko Gorge on the way)
8 Sendai - Yamadera
9 Sendai - Matsushima or Jogi Nyorai Saihoji temple
10 Sendai to Tokyo*
11 Fly from Tokyo

This will be my second trip to Japan, the first was in Spring in 2017. My main focus is on autumn colours and photography. This will be my first experience of autumn :)

I am having below doubts in this itinerary:
1. Should I skip Towadako altogether and spend that time in Tazawako instead? This will get me two extra days, which I can spend near Sendai (This could save some time and money in the process, and also make the itinerary less busy). Hiking along Oirase stream and walking near Towadako sounds amazing though, but is that worth the detour?
2. Is the Aizu Gurutto card still available in 2018 for Aizu region?
3. Any other suggestions for fine tuning the itinerary.

Thanks in advance!
by Thiag  

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary help 2018/6/8 21:42
Oirase is rated as the second site in whole Tohoku in October, but as the 33rd in November.
https://www.jalan.net/kankou/pro_002
See the bar on this site. The peak season is in October.
https://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_02404ab2040005850/
This site says the best there would be from October 15 to October 25.
https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=ja&...

There is a yearly variation, but your dates appears to be late to enjoy autumn colors in Tohoku, especially in the north. The variation may require the itineray would be better to be more flexible.
Oct Goshikinuma https://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_07402ab2030004380/
Oct Ouchijuku https://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_07362ad2150129217/
Oct To no Hetsuri https://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_07362ab2070007493/
Oct Kakunodate https://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_05423ad2150017171/
Oct Towadako https://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_05303ab2030004908/
Oct Dakigaeri https://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_05423ab2040005442/
Oct Tazawako https://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_guide000000152242/
Oct Matsushima https://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_04401ab2050006503/
Oct Naruko https://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_04482ab2040005422/

Aizu Gurruto card is still on sale.
https://www.aizukanko.com/kk/aizucard/
by Luisjp rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary help 2018/6/8 21:44
by Luisjp rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary help 2018/6/8 22:57
Hello. I'm a Tohoku resident. It's a bit sad that you skip the whole Iwate prefecture where I was born and bred. Anyway, if you want to take photos, I think onsen districts are perfect, especially Aomori and Akita. To me as a young person, I don't find anything entertaining in Tohoku apart from Sendai though.

Here is my personal view of Tazawako and Towadako.

Tazawako : A plain pond surrounded by woods. Close to Nyuto onsen (apart from it there is nothing to see). You cannot look down from a higher place due to the flat ground around the lake. Loved by scientists rather than tourists. It's nice plainness though. A Great beauty without glamour.

Towadako : Bigger. Stunning. Complicated outline. Attracts many tourists. You can take pictures from a higher place, there is the observatory(611m). There are many steep slopes to get there. You can access many other beautiful spots such as Oirase or Hakkouda. Be careful for wild animals (especially bears that can be violent)

And Aidu Gurutto Card is available. So don't worry about that.
Hope it helps. We are very glad to have you in Tohoku :) Have a good journey!
by neko (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary help 2018/6/12 15:08
I haven't been to Tawazako but I did Oirase at the last phase of the foliage and it's still very beautiful. Photos may not do justice but I wasn't too interested with Tawazako as it looks plain.

The dates indeed looks quite late for autumn in northern Tohoku. I went to Kakunodate on end of October and the leaves start to fade out. Reversing the schedule to do the northern part first and descend to Sendai might work well. Also, watch out for the bus run time and schedule as it may not run or run infrequently once the autumn season is over.
by Moccy rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary help 2018/6/18 19:56
Thank you very much all for your suggestions! Sorry for the late reply from my side.

@Luisjp : Thanks for the links and confirmation on availability of Aizu Gurutto card! They are very useful in checking out the places.

@neko : I would like to visit Iwate prefecture, but because of lack of time (I am a normal
salaried person, difficult to get extended leaves), I am forced to skip it this time. Also,
I'll be visiting Iwate in my next trip to Tohoku :) I have marked few places like Hiraizumi,
Tono village, Sanriku coast, but also would love to get suggestions from locals like you! I
also found Towadako more interesting when compared to Tazawako. Thanks for your insight on
that.

@Moccy : Based on your suggestions, I have advanced the travel dates by one week. Now the travel dates are from 19thOct to 4th Nov. Also, the bus time schedule from Hachinohe to Towada does not suit my plans, so I have skipped Towadako and Oirase and included Nikko in the itinerary. Please find the new itinerary below.
by Thiag rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary help 2018/6/18 20:01
This is the updated Itinerary:

19-Oct Fly to Narita
20-Oct Tokyo to Nikko
21-Oct Nikko
22-Oct Nikko
23-Oct Nikko to Kakunodate
24-Oct Kakunodate
25-Oct Kakunodate
26-Oct Kakunodate to Sendai
27-Oct Sendai - visit Yamadera
28-Oct Sendai - Akiu Otaki/Jogi Nyorai temple
29-Oct Sendai - Matsushima (or Hiraizumi)
30-Oct Sendai to Aizu Wakamatsu
31-Oct Aizu Wakamatsu - Goshikinuma
1-Nov Aizu Wakamatsu - Ouchijuku, Tono Hetsuri
2-Nov Aizu Wakamatsu - Tadami line
3-Nov Aizu Wakamatsu to Tokyo (Ueno)
4-Nov Fly from Narita
by Thiag rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary help 2018/6/18 23:09
I think the boat ride along Geibikei ( https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5006.html ) was pretty interesting with scenic autumn colours at the end of October. Managed to see Hiraizumi too as I started early from Sendai
by CDY (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary help 2018/6/19 04:30
That's interesting! May is know what time you started from Sendai, and was it rushed?
Thank you!
by Thiag rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary help 2018/6/19 13:30

I have skipped Towadako and Oirase

Best time to visit the Oirase for the, g—t, Koyo, IMHO, would be between second and the third week of Oct. Your visit would be perfect for the occasion and would be a pity if you miss it. I highly recommend one night stay in the keiryuu hotel; free shuttle bus from Hachinohe station is included for staying guests.
https://www.oirase-keiryuu.jp/en/
by shinji (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary help 2018/6/19 17:13
tThat's interesting! May is know what time you started from Sendai, and was it rushed?

Not sure what transportation you will be using as I only relied on public transport. Looking back at my travel itinerary (Oct'15), I took the 08:02 Yamabiko 41 from Sendai to Ichinoseki then JR Ofunato Line to Geibikei.

As the service between Ichinoseki and Geibikei was not very frequent. I wanted to take the 12:00 bus from Geibikei to Hiraizumi Station but I managed to catch the next train to Hiraizumi before then. Anyway the bus ran once every two hours and took about 35 minutes Y500.

Overall I didn't feel rushed as I am more of "quality rather than quantity" person when visiting attractions. If I miss something then I take it as another opportunity to visit the place again.
by CDY (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary 2018/6/19 19:01
There are three direct buses from Narita to Nikko, leaving at 8:50, 11:05, and 14:35.
Maronie-Gou: http://www.kantobus.co.jp/airport/maronie01.html
I would try to visit Tazawako while in Kakunodate. I may take a route through Yokote and Shinjo, and visit Yamadera on the way to Sendai. I might think of staying Akiu Onsen, not in the city center. I have been to Hiraizumi and Matsushima om the same day when I lived in Sendai. I may try to ride a full Tadami Line to Koide, then head to Tokyo from there.

What timetables have you seen? In Koyo season, they would provide additional special services. Moreover, some hotels would offer free shuttles.

For a period from late October to early November, Towadako, Naruko, Gembikei, and Nikko are regarded as the best sites to enjoy Koyo at a certain site. But, as I said, the yearly variation should affect the reality.

The difference between Geibikei and Gembikei are shown in this film.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIBebUen7EE

I would visit Kakunodate for cherry blossom in Spring and Aizu for snow in winter. But it is your trip. You seem to prefer few changes of hotels, but I don't. I like to expose myself to different things as possible. Not in a rushed manner, but I would like to avoid backtracking if possible.
by Luisjp rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary 2018/6/20 15:37
You are covering #8 and # 10 in this video, but missing #3 & #4. But visiting #9 at the same time with #3 and #4 could make more sense.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GymDc0mavfE
by Luisjp rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary 2018/6/20 16:38
@Luisjp: Thanks for sharing the video links! I will check them out.
by Thiag rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary 2018/6/20 17:05
Thank you for all the responses!

These are some of the things I missed to mention:
1. I'll be using JR East Tohoku pass (for 5 non consecutive days). Will be initiating this pass on the day of travel from Nikko to Kakunodate. Will be using this pass for JR bus to and from Towadako from Hachinohe station as well.
2. I'll be traveling solo and a backpacker budget, so will be solely reliant on public transportation. Won't be renting a car, and wouldn't take a Taxi unless there is no other alternative.

@shinji Thanks for your advice on that. I am thinking of somehow accomodating Towada and Oirase in the plan. I have charted out an updated itinerary, which I am sharing below.

@CDY: Same here as well! I am kind of a slow traveler too. I will be using the JR East Tohoku pass. Thanks for sharing your travel details of Geibikei and Hiraizumi.

@Luisjp: Thanks for the route suggestions.
Main reason for including Aizu is because I have friends at Aizu Wakamatsu, and I will get to see them.
For Towadako, I was referring to this page - http://www.jrbustohoku.co.jp/route/detail/?RID=13

19 Oct - Flight lands in Tokyo Narita at 15:55. Travel from Tokyo to Nikko.
20 Oct - Nikko
21 Oct - Nikko
22 Oct - Nikko to Kakunodate*
23 Oct - Kakunodate - Nairiku line
24 Oct - Kakunodate - Dakigaeri gorge, Tazawako (if possible)
25 Oct - Kakunodate to Towada*
26 Oct - Towadako
27 Oct - Towadako to Sendai*
28 Oct - Sendai - Yamadera
29 Oct - Sendai
30 Oct - Sendai to Aizu*
31 Oct - Aizu - Goshikinuma
1 Nov - Aizu - Ouchijuku
2 Nov - Aizu - Tadami line
3 Nov - Aizu to Tokyo*
4 Nov - depart from Tokyo Narita
by Thiag rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary 2018/6/22 17:25
For Towadako, I think of taking a bus from JR Kazuno-Hanawa to Towadako/Yasumiya for the first contact to Lake Towada. There are many hotels in the Yasumiya area. Take a ferry from there to Nenokuchi, a gateway to Oirase Stream. Walk down the walking path until the end in Yakeyama area. Then, get back to the hotel in Yasumiya by a direct bus. For a leave, I take a bus to JR Shin-Aomori to enjoy views in Mt Hakkoda region.

The bus between Kazuno-Hanawa and Yasumiya is operated by Towada Taxi. It only runs on weekends and holidays until Oct 21 this year, unfortunately. It requires a reservation but connects Towadako and Hachimantai areas. For example, Yasumiya/‹x‰ฎ 939-1043 JR Kazuno-Hanawa/ŽญŠp‰ิ—ึ‰w‘O -1206 Hachimantai/”ช”ฆ•ฝ’ธใ.
http://www.city.kazuno.akita.jp/kankonew/image/82122download.pdf
https://www.env.go.jp/park/common/data/07_towada_map_e.pdf

For Yasumiya, there are two JR Bus lines from JR Hachinohe and from JR Shin-Aomori. Both of them are covered by JR EAST PASS now.
http://www.jrbustohoku.co.jp/route/detail/?PID=9&RID=13
http://www.jrbustohoku.co.jp/route/detail/?PID=9&RID=14
http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pdf/jrbus_map_e.pdf
http://www.jrbustohoku.co.jp/plan/pdf/101.pdf

Not for Yasumiya, but until Yakeyama, Totetsu runs direct buses from a Shinkansen station, Shichinohe-Towada. It costs 500 yen one way.
http://www.city.towada.lg.jp/docs/2014032000011/files/H30_bus.pdf

For Yakeyama/ฤŽR, there are some more buses from Towadashi-chuo/\˜a“cŽs’†‰› (Towada City Center). For Towadashi-chuo, there are buses either from JR Shin-Aomori/VยX‰w, Shichinohe-Towada/ŽตŒห\˜a“c‰w, and Hachinohe/”ชŒห‰w. It means this requires a transfer at Towadashi-chuo.
http://www.toutetsu.co.jp/jikoku/towada-yakeyama.htm
http://www.toutetsu.co.jp/jikoku/towada-hachinohe.html
http://www.toutetsu.co.jp/img/shichinohetowada.pdf
http://www.toutetsu.co.jp/jikoku/towada-aomori.htm

Konan Bus runs a tour bus on every Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. 3000 yen per one way. By a reservation.
JR Hirosaki 830-1200 Towadako/Yasumiya
Towadako/Yasumiya 1430-1715 JR Owani-Onsen -1745 JR Hirosaki
http://www.tsugarunavi.jp/shuttlebus/tour_spring2018.html

That is all that I have found the buses for Towadako, except the ones by some hotels.

From Kakunodakte, the following five do not require a transfer at Towadashi-chuo. I may take the Aomori one to make a full use of the JR EAST PASS.

Kakunodate 721-949 Shin-Aomori 1010-1303 Towadako/Yasumiya
https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/japan-rail-pass/?p=0&from=Kakunodat...

Kakunodate 721-921 Hachinohe 935-1150 Towada/Yasumiya
https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/japan-rail-pass/?p=0&xpd=1&from=Kak...

Kakunodate 856-1044 Shichinohe-Towada 1105-1203 Towada/Yakeyama (500 yen)
https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/japan-rail-pass/?p=0&xpd=1&from=Kak...

Kakunodate 1054-1304 Hachinohe 1320-1535 Towada/Yasumiya
https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/japan-rail-pass/?p=0&xpd=1&from=Kak...

Kakunodate 1156-1427 Shichinohe-Towada 1445-1543 Towada/Yakeyama (500 yen)
https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/japan-rail-pass/?p=0&xpd=1&from=Kak...

Oirase is determined by a part between Yakeyama and Nenokuchi.
http://www.eco-oirase.com/en/walking
Shuttle buses run frequently between Yakeyama and Yasumiya via Nenokuchi from 26 to 29 October, this year. You have already known that, haven't you?
http://www.eco-oirase.com/en/bus-ship
by Luisjp rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary 2018/6/29 23:09
@Luisjp:
Sorry for my late reply!
Thank you for all the bus information and the links!
I will be taking the JR bus from Hachinohe station. I will be arriving at Hachinohe station from Kakunodate on 26th Oct, and planning to take the JR bus from Hachinohe to Towadako.

26th Oct:
As you have suggested, if I take this train, I will be able to catch the 13.20 bus from Hachinohe to Towadako:
https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/japan-rail-pass/?p=0&xpd=1&from=Kak...
JR East Tohoku pass will be utilized for this day. I will be staying near Towadako till 29th Oct.
Initially, I had planned of taking train till Aomori, stay near Jogakura and travel to Towadako. But thought it will be very tedious to travel in bus with my luggage.

27th, 28th Oct:
One day planning to spend in Oirase stream hiking and Lake Towada.
The second day I am planning to visit Tsutanuma, Jogakura bridge (if possible).

29th Oct:
Leave Towadako to Sendai.

Shuttle buses run frequently between Yakeyama and Yasumiya via Nenokuchi from 26 to 29 October, this year. You have already known that, haven't you?
- I was not aware of this special bus. Thanks for sharing this information!

Can you please help me with the below doubts:
1. Do we need to reserve the JR bus tickets for travel from Hachinohe station to Towada lake?
2. For 27th and 28th, do we need to reserve for the JR bus? Or can we hop on and hop off anywhere in between? For example, I would like to start from Towada and get down at Tsuta onsen bus stop. Then, would like to board the next bus and travel till Jogakura-onsen bus stop. After that, would like to return to Towada for the end of the day. Is this possible to do with public transport, or is it too much of a stretch?

Btw, this is my final itinerary for this trip:
19-Oct Fly from home
20-Oct Land in Narita at 7.35am, Travel from Tokyo to Nikko
21-Oct Nikko
22-Oct Nikko
23-Oct Nikko to Kakunodate*
24-Oct Kakunodate - Nairiku line
25-Oct Kakunodate - Dakigaeri gorge (and Tazawako, if time permits)
26-Oct Kakunodate to Towadako*
27-Oct Towadako - Oirase stream, Towada lake
28-Oct Towadako - Tsutanuma, Jogakura bridge (return to Towadako for the night)
29-Oct Towadako to Sendai*
30-Oct Sendai - Yamadera
31-Oct Sendai - Matsushima or Jogi Nyorai
1-Nov Sendai to Aizu Wakamatsu*
2-Nov Aizu Wakamatsu - Ouchijuku, Tono Hetsuri
3-Nov Aizu Wakamatsu - Tadami line
4-Nov Aizu Wakamatsu to Tokyo*
5-Nov Fly from Narita to home

* - days of usage of JR East Tohoku pass
by Thiag rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary 2018/6/30 14:37
You could do as you like. JR does not accept any reservations both for Mizuumi-Gou (Aomori-Towadako) and Oirase-Gou (Hachinohe-Towadako). All the seats are Jiyuseki (non-reserved seats). They would run an additional bus if a planned bus became full.
http://www.jrbustohoku.co.jp/route/detail/?PID=1&RID=1&BID=474
http://www.jrbustohoku.co.jp/sightseeing/
https://busmap.info/busstop/18047/
https://busmap.info/busstop/18042/
http://tsutaonsen.com
http://www.jogakura.com

According to an official guide, there is a seventy-minute walking course in Tsuta Onsen area.
http://www.city.towada.lg.jp/docs/2016032900018/files/oirase_en.pdf
http://www.city.towada.lg.jp/docs/2016032900018/files/towadako_en.pdf

If you stay at Yasumiya, you could do this: Yashumiya 7:10-(Mizuumi #51: 1,440 yen)-8:10 Tsuta Onsen 11:21-(Mizuumi #3: 1,000 yen)-12:01 Jogakura Onsen 14:53-(Mizuumi #10: 2,150 yen)-16:38 Yasumiya.
https://www.navitime.co.jp/bustransit/search?orvArea=00&orvStationName...’ำ‰ท๒&dnvArea=00&dnvStationName=้ƒP‘q‰ท๒&month=2018%2F6&day=30&hour=11&minute=9&through=0&basis=1&orvStationCode=&dnvStationCode=
http://www.jrbustohoku.co.jp/pdf_data/mizuumiJ20140401.pdf

You may consider purchasing Aomori/Hachinose/Towadako Free Kippu, a two-day pass valid both for Mizuumu-Gou and Oirase-Gou (5000 yen). With this pass, JR bus becomes a hop-on bus.

The bus has a trunk for luggage. Or, you could try Takkyubin by Yamato. Anyway, it is not a bad idea to have a short break at Hachinohe.
http://www.jrbustohoku.co.jp/info/?EID=3
http://www.global-yamato.com/en/hands-free-travel/
https://hachinohe-kanko.com/english/
by Luisjp rate this post as useful

Re: Tohoku autumn itinerary 2018/7/2 22:36
@Luisjp:
Thank you so much for helping me with my queries and doubts :)
That's a relief that no reservations are required in the JR bus near Towada! I am very excited to explore the places along the Towada - Hakkoda route.

If you stay at Yasumiya, you could do this: Yashumiya 7:10-(Mizuumi #51: 1,440 yen)-8:10 Tsuta Onsen 11:21-(Mizuumi #3: 1,000 yen)-12:01 Jogakura Onsen 14:53-(Mizuumi #10: 2,150 yen)-16:38 Yasumiya.
https://www.navitime.co.jp/bustransit/search?orvArea=00&orvStationName...’ำ‰ท๒&dnvArea=00&dnvStationName=้ƒP‘q‰ท๒&month=2018%2F6&day=30&hour=11&minute=9&through=0&basis=1&orvStationCode=&dnvStationCode=
http://www.jrbustohoku.co.jp/pdf_data/mizuumiJ20140401.pdf
-- Thanks for sharing this detailed information. It will be definitely useful for planning.

You may consider purchasing Aomori/Hachinose/Towadako Free Kippu, a two-day pass valid both for Mizuumu-Gou and Oirase-Gou (5000 yen). With this pass, JR bus becomes a hop-on bus.
-- Thank you! I will consider taking this for the 2 days of stay there.

- Thiag
by Thiag rate this post as useful

reply to this thread